Some approaches to the assessment of moral intuitions are discussed. The controlled ethical trial isolates a moral issue from confounding factors and thereby clarifies what a person's intuition actually is. Casuistic reasoning from situations, where intuitions are clear, suggests or modifies principles, which can then help to make decisions in situations where intuitions are unclear. When intuitions are defended by a supporting principle, that principle can be tested by finding extreme cases, in which it is counterintuitive to follow the principle. An approach to the resolution of conflict between valid moral principles, specifically the utilitarian and justice principles, is considered. It is argued that even those who justify intuitions by a priori principles are often obliged to modify or support their principles by resort to the consideration of consequences.
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A B Shaw MD, FRCP, is a retired Consultant Physician.