The Role of Feelings in Husserl's Ethics

Idealistic Studies 39 (1/3):11-22 (2009)
Though Husserl tends to receive less attention than other phenomenologists, there is growing interest in his ethics. Proponents of Husserl’s ethics argue that his moral philosophy is not merely of historical interest; Husserl, they claim, can contribute positively to contemporary debates in ethics, specifically debates about the role of feelings in moral agency. This paper raises questions about this last claim. I argue that, on the one hand, Husserl’s moral psychology proves superior to some of his modern predecessors, insofar as Husserl accounts (1) for the intentionality of emotions and (2) for their cognitive content, and (3) for the connections between emotions and evaluation and between emotions and reasons. On the other hand, I argue that Husserl mistakenly claims that all valuing requires some feeling on the part of the person valuing. This error, I argue, is due to Husserl’s conflation of desires and emotions. I defend my critique of Husserl by reference to an Aristotelian account of rational and non-rational desires
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DOI 10.5840/idstudies2009391/310
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