David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Oxford University Press (2007)
Jesse Prinz argues that recent work in philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology supports two radical hypotheses about the nature of morality: moral values are based on emotional responses, and these emotional responses are inculcated by culture, not hard-wired through natural selection. In the first half of the book, Jesse Prinz defends the hypothesis that morality has an emotional foundation. Evidence from brain imaging, social psychology, and psychopathology suggest that, when we judge something to be right or wrong, we are merely expressing our emotions. Prinz argues that these emotions do not track objective features of reality; rather, the rightness and wrongness of an act consists in the fact that people are disposed to have certain emotions towards it. In the second half of the book, he turns to a defense of moral relativism. Moral facts depend on emotional responses, and emotional responses vary from culture to culture. Prinz surveys the anthropological record to establish moral variation, and he draws on cultural history to show how attitudes toward practices such as cannibalism and marriage change over time. He also criticizes evidence from animal behavior and child development that has been taken to support the claim that moral attitudes are hard-wired by natural selection. Prinz concludes that there is no single true morality, but he also argues that some moral values are better than others; moral progress is possible. Throughout the book, Prinz relates his views to contemporary and historical work in philosophical ethics. His views echo themes in the writings of David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche, but Prinz supports, extends, and revises these classic theories using the resources of cutting-edge cognitive science. The Emotional Construction of Morals will stimulate and challenge anyone who is curious about the nature and origin of moral values
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Citations of this work BETA
Jesse Prinz (2009). The Normativity Challenge: Cultural Psychology Provides the Real Threat to Virtue Ethics. [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 13 (2-3):117 - 144.
Caj Strandberg & Fredrik Björklund (2013). Is Moral Internalism Supported by Folk Intuitions? Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):319-335.
Ragnar Francén (2010). No Deep Disagreement for New Relativists. Philosophical Studies 151 (1):19--37.
Jesse Prinz (2011). Against Empathy. Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):214-233.
Hanno Sauer (2012). Psychopaths and Filthy Desks: Are Emotions Necessary and Sufficient for Moral Judgment? Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):95-115.
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