Recent work in various branches of philosophy has reinvigorated debate over the psychology behind moral judgment. Using Marc Hauser's categorization of theories as “Kantian,” “Humean,” or “Rawlsian” to frame the discussion, I argue that the existing evidence weighs against the Kantian model and partly in favor of both the Humean and the Rawlsian models. Emotions do play a causal role in the formation of our moral judgments, as the Humean model claims, but there are also unconscious principles (...) shaping our moral judgments, as the Rawlsian model predicts. Thus, Hauser's tripartite division of possible models of moralpsychology is inadequate. Drawing on research in cognitive neuroscience, clinical and behavioral psychology, and psychopathology, I sketch a new, developmental sentimentalist model of moralpsychology. I call it a “Mencian” model, after the Confucian philosopher Mencius. On this model, moral judgments are caused by emotions, but because of the way emotions are mapped onto particular actions, moral judgments unconsciously reflect certain principled distinctions. (shrink)
This paper draws from the resources of Iris Murdoch''s moral philosophy to analyze the ethical status of the emotions at two related levels of reflection. Methodologically, it argues that a recovery of the emotions requires a revised notion of moral theory which affirms the basic orientation of consciousness to some notion of value or the good. Such a theory challenges many of the rationalist premises which in the past have led moral theory to reject the role of (...) emotions in ethics. In particular, it acknowledges the centrality of moralpsychology to ethics and reclaims the notion of consciousness rather than the will as the primary mode of human moral being. At a second, more substantive level, the paper explores the relation between the emotions and consciousness. Specifically, it defends a cognitivist and reflexive theory of the emotions which affirms a strong relation between the emotions and our evaluative beliefs. On this view, the emotions reflexively mediate our relation to objective value. In order to earn their cognitive status, however, the emotions must be tested in relation to a critical principle in order to guard against the egoistic tendencies of consciousness to build up images of reality to serve its own purposes. Therefore, a theory of the Good must be part of the critical content of a reflexive theory of the emotions. (shrink)
Moral exemplar studies of computer and engineering professionals have led ethics teachers to expand their pedagogical aims beyond moral reasoning to include the skills of moral expertise. This paper frames this expanded moral curriculum in a psychologically informed virtue ethics. Moralpsychology provides a description of character distributed across personality traits, integration of moral value into the self system, and moral skill sets. All of these elements play out on the stage of (...) a social surround called a moral ecology. Expanding the practical and professional curriculum to cover the skills and competencies of moral expertise converts the classroom into a laboratory where students practice moral expertise under the guidance of their teachers. The good news is that this expanded pedagogical approach can be realized without revolutionizing existing methods of teaching ethics. What is required, instead, is a redeployment of existing pedagogical tools such as cases, professional codes, decision-making frameworks, and ethics tests. This essay begins with a summary of virtue ethics and informs this with recent research in moralpsychology. After identifying pedagogical means for teaching ethics, it shows how these can be redeployed to meet a broader, skills based agenda. Finally, short module profiles offer concrete examples of the shape this redeployed pedagogical agenda would take in the practical and professional ethics classroom. (shrink)
Contemporary moralpsychology has been enormously enriched by recent theoretical developments and empirical findings in evolutionary biology, cognitive psychology and neuroscience, and social psychology and psychopathology. Yet despite the fact that some theorists have developed specifically “social heuristic” (Gigerenzer, 2008) and “social intuitionist” (Haidt, 2007) theories of moral judgment and behavior, and despite regular appeals to the findings of experimental social psychology, contemporary moralpsychology has largely neglected the social dimensions of (...) class='Hi'>moral judgment and behavior. I provide a brief sketch of these dimensions, and consider the implications for contemporary theory and research in moralpsychology. (shrink)
Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: (1) a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; (2) a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; (3) a version (...) formed by the assimilation of (2) to (1), labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and (4) Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation (4). Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moralpsychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation(s) they oppose. (shrink)
This book provides a rich, systematic, and accessible introduction to moralpsychology, aimed at undergraduate philosophy and psychology majors. There are eight chapters, in addition to a short introduction, prospective conclusion, and extensive bibliography. The recipe for each chapter will be: a) to introduce a philosophical topic (e.g., altruism, virtue, preferences, rules) and some prominent positions on it, without assuming prior acquaintance on the part of the reader b) to canvass and explain the relevance of a particular (...) domain of empirical inquiry (e.g., evolutionary psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience) to the topic c) to argue for some tentative conclusions about the topic d) to suggest further avenues for conceptual and empirical research The guiding theme of the book is that moral philosophy without psychological content is empty, whereas psychological investigation without philosophical insight is blind. Thus, I advocate a holistic approach that pictures moralpsychology as a project of collaborative inquiry into the descriptive and normative aspects of the human condition. Ideally, students will come away from (a course built around) the book with the sense that, though philosophy may not be the queen of the sciences, its role is not merely to interpret scientific results. (shrink)
Many philosophers assume that philosophical theories about the psychological nature of moral judgment can be confirmed or disconfirmed by the kind of evidence gathered by natural and social scientists (especially experimental psychologists and neuroscientists). I argue that this assumption is mistaken. For the most part, empirical evidence can do no work in these philosophical debates, as the metaphorical heavy-lifting is done by the pre-experimental assumptions that make it possible to apply empirical data to these philosophical debates. For the purpose (...) of this paper, I emphasize two putatively empirically-supported theories about the psychological nature of moral judgment. The first is the Sentimental Rules Account, which is defended by Shaun Nichols. The second is defended by Jesse Prinz, and is a form of sentimentalist moral relativism. I show that both of the arguments in favour of these theories rely on assumptions which would be rejected by their philosophical opponents. Further, these assumptions carry substantive moral commitments and thus cannot be confirmed by further empirical investigation. Because of this shared methodological assumption, I argue that a certain form of empirical moralpsychology rests on a mistake. (shrink)
Rather than “selfishness,” a more accurate and revealing interpretation of Wang's use of siyuis “self-centeredness.” One of the main goals in Wang's model of moral cultivation was to attain a state devoid of self-centered desires. Wang relied a great deal on the exercise and cultivation of an emotional identification and feeling of oneness with others. In this paper, I first provide a brief summary of the role of Wang's concept of siyu in his moralpsychology. I then (...) examine key passages in Wang's writings that reveal his nuanced understanding of siyu and, along the way, I draw on empirical research in psychology to help illuminate the significance of Wang's view of siyu to his overall model of moral cultivation. (shrink)
The contribution of healthcare ethics committee (HEC) members to HECs is fundamental. However, little is known about how HEC members view clinical ethics. We report results from a qualitative study of the moralpsychology of HEC members. We found that contrary to the existing Kohlberg-based studies, HEC members hold a pragmatic non-expert view of clinical ethics based mainly on respect for persons and a commitment to the patient’s good. In general, HEC members hold deflationary views regarding moral (...) theory. Ethical principles are not abstract foundations but the expression of moral commitments to patients that pre-exist awareness of moral theory. Emotions and proximity to patient sufferance fundamentally shape the views of HEC members on clinical ethics. Further work at the intersection of clinical ethics and qualitative research could bring to the foreground lay perspectives on moral problems that may differ from bioethics expert views. (shrink)
The essays in this collection are concerned with the psychology of moral agency. They focus on moral feelings and moral motivation, and seek to understand the operations and origins of these phenomena as rooted in the natural desires and emotions of human beings. An important feature of the essays, and one that distinguishes the book from most philosophical work in moralpsychology, is the attention to the writings of Freud. Many of the essays draw (...) on Freud's ideas about conscience and morality, while several explore the depths and limits of Freud's theories. An underlying theme of the volume is a critique of influential rationalist accounts of moral agency. John Deigh shows that one can subject the principles of morality to rational inquiry without thereby holding that reason alone can originate action. (shrink)
MoralPsychology: Historical and Contemporary Readings is the first book to bring together the most significant contemporary and historical works on the topic from both philosophy and psychology. Provides a comprehensive introduction to moralpsychology, which is the study of psychological mechanisms and processes underlying ethics and morality Unique in bringing together contemporary texts by philosophers, psychologists and other cognitive scientists with foundational works from both philosophy and psychology Approaches moralpsychology from (...) an empirically informed perspective Explores a wide range of topics from passion and altruism to virtue and responsibility Editorial introductions to each section explain the background of and connections between the selections. (shrink)
Moral functioning is a defining feature of human personhood and human social life. MoralPsychology provides an integrative and evaluative overview of the theoretical and empirical traditions that have attempted to make sense of moral cognition, prosocial behavior, and the development of virtuous character.This is the first book to integrate a comprehensive review of the psychological literatures with allied traditions in ethics. Moral rationality and decisionmaking; the development of the sense of fairness and justice, and (...) of prosocial dispositions; as well as the notion of moral self and moral identity and their relation to issues of character and virtue are fully discussed in the rich contexts provided by psychological and philosophical paradigms. Lapsley emphasizes parenting and educational strategies for influencing moral behavior, reasoning, and character development, and charts a line of research for the “post-Kohlbergian era” in moralpsychology.This book will be an invaluable text for advanced courses in moralpsychology, as taught in departments of psychology, education, and philosophy. It will also prove to be a standard reference work for researchers and ethicists alike. (shrink)
One of the reasons why there is no Hegelian school in contemporary ethics in the way that there are Kantian, Humean and Aristotelian schools is because Hegelians have been unable to clearly articulate the Hegelian alternative to those schools’ moral psychologies, i.e., to present a Hegelian model of the motivation to, perception of, and responsibility for moral action. Here it is argued that in its most basic terms Hegel's model can be understood as follows: the agent acts in (...) a responsible and thus paradigmatic sense when she identifies as reasons those motivations which are grounded in his or her talents and support actions that are likely to develop those talents in ways suggested by his or her interests. (shrink)
According to rationalism regarding the psychology of moral judgment, people’s moral judgments are generally the result of a process of reasoning that relies on moral principles or rules. By contrast, intuitionist models of moral judgment hold that people generally come to have moral judgments about particular cases on the basis of gut-level, emotion-driven intuition, and do so without reliance on reasoning and hence without reliance on moral principles. In recent years the intuitionist model (...) has been forcefully defended by Jonathan Haidt. One important implication of Haidt’s model is that in giving reasons for their moral judgments people tend to confabulate – the reasons they give in attempting to explain their moral judgments are not really operative in producing those judgments. Moral reason-giving on Haidt’s view is generally a matter of post hoc confabulation. Against Haidt, we argue for a version of rationalism that we call ‘morphological rationalism.’ We label our version ‘morphological’ because according to it, the information contained in moral principles is embodied in the standing structure of a typical individual’s cognitive system, and this morphologically embodied information plays a causal role in the generation of particular moral judgments. The manner in which the principles play this role is via ‘proceduralization’ – such principles operate automatically. In contrast to Haidt’s intuitionism, then, our view does not imply that people’s moral reason-giving practices are matters of confabulation. In defense of our view, we appeal to what we call the ‘nonjarring’ character of the phenomenology of making moral judgments and of giving reasons for those judgments. (shrink)
Preliminary matters -- Appendix to chapter 1: evil and experimental philosophy -- Taxonomies of wickedness -- The structure of evil character -- The content of evil character -- Appendix to chapter 4: evil and social psychology -- Evil and moral responsibility -- Evil and abnormal psychology -- Evil and capital punishment.
What is the relationship between the self and society? Where do moral judgments come from? As Blakey Vermeule demonstrates in The Party of Humanity, such questions about sociability and moral philosophy were central to eighteenth-century writers and artists. Vermeule focuses on a group of aesthetically complicated moral texts: Alexander Pope's character sketches and Dunciad , Samuel Johnson's Life of Savage, and David Hume's self-consciously theatrical writings on pride and his autobiographical writings on religious melancholia. These writers and (...) their characters confronted familiar social dilemmas--sexual desire, gender identity, family relations, cheating, ambition, status, rivalry, and shame--and responded by developing a practical ethics about their own behavior at the same time that they refined their moral judgments of others. The Party of Humanity frames its discussion about emotions, social conflict, and aesthetics within two broad theories: the emerging field of evolutionary psychology and Kantian moral philosophy. By studying how eighteenth-century Britons experienced the demands of their social identities, Vermeule argues, we can better understand the most salient problems facing moral philosophy today--the issue of self-interest and the question of how moral norms are shaped by social agendas. (shrink)
Although linguistic nativism has received the bulk of attention in contemporary innateness debates, moral nativism has perhaps an even deeper ancestry. If linguistic nativism is Cartesian, moral nativism is Platonic. Moral nativism has taken a backseat to linguistic nativism in contemporary discussions largely because Chomsky made a case for linguistic nativism characterized by unprecedented rigor. Hence it is not surprising that recent attempts to revive the thesis that we have innate moral knowledge have drawn on Chomsky’s (...) framework. I’ll argue, however, that the recent attempts to use Chomsky-style arguments in support of innate moral knowledge are uniformly unconvincing. The central argument in the Chomskian arsenal, of course, is the Poverty of the Stimulus (POS) argument. In section 1, I will set out the basic form of the POS argument and the conclusions about domain specificity and innate propositional knowledge that are supposed to follow. In section 2, I’ll distinguish 3 hypotheses about innateness and morality: rule nativism, moral principle nativism, and moral judgment nativism. In sections 3-5 I’ll then consider each of these hypotheses in turn. I’ll argue that while there is some reason to favor rule nativism, the arguments that moral principles and moral judgment derive from innate moral knowledge don’t work. The capacity for moral judgment is better explained by appeal to innate affective systems rather than innate moral knowledge. In the final section, I’ll suggest that the role of such affective mechanisms in structuring the mind complicates the standard picture about poverty of the stimulus arguments and nativism. For the affective mechanisms that influence cognitive structures can make contributions that are neither domain general nor domain specific. (shrink)
I contend that there are two dogmas that are still popular among philosophers of action: that agents can only desire what they think is good and that they can only intentionally pursue what they think is good. I also argue that both dogmas are false. Broadly, I argue that our best theories of action can explain the possibility of intentionally pursuing what one thinks is not at all good, that we need to allow for the possibility of intentionally pursuing what (...) one think is not at all good, and that if we can intentionally pursue what we think is not at all good then we can desire it on similar grounds. (shrink)
Much of the philosophical attention directed to pride focuses on the normative puzzle of determining how pride can be both a central vice and a central virtue. But there is another puzzle, a descriptive puzzle, of determining how the emotion of pride and the character trait of pride relate to each other. A solution is offered to the descriptive puzzle that builds upon the accounts of Hume and Gabriele Taylor, but avoids the pitfalls of those accounts. In particular, the emotion (...) and the trait correspond to two employments of personal ideals: personal ideals as standards of self-assessment and personal ideals as practical guides in one’s deliberation and related activities. This account, in turn, provides a framework for solving the normative puzzle. (shrink)
Psychologists and philosophers use the term 'intuition' for a variety of different phenomena. In this paper, I try to provide a kind of a roadmap of the debates, point to some confusions and problems, and give a brief sketch of an empirically respectable philosophical approach.
I argue that evolutionary strategies of kin selection and game-theoretic reciprocity are apt to generate agent-centered and agent- neutral moral intuitions, respectively. Such intuitions are the building blocks of moral theories, resulting in a fundamental schism between agent-centered theories on the one hand and agent-neutral theories on the other. An agent-neutral moral theory is one according to which everyone has the same duties and moral aims, no matter what their personal interests or interpersonal relationships. Agent-centered (...) class='Hi'>moral theories deny this and include at least some prescriptions that include ineliminable indexicals. I argue that there are no rational means of bridging the gap between the two types of theories; nevertheless this does not necessitate skepticism about the moral—we might instead opt for an ethical relativism in which the truth of moral statements is relativized to the perspective of moral theories on either side of the schism. Such a relativism does not mean that any ethical theory is as good as any other; some cannot be held in reflective equilibrium, and even among those that can, there may well be pragmatic reasons that motivate the selection of one theory over another. But if no sort of relativism is deemed acceptable, then it is hard to avoid moral skepticism. (shrink)
Experimental research in moralpsychology can be used to generate debunking arguments in ethics. Specifically, research can indicate that we draw a moral distinction on the basis of a morally irrelevant difference. We develop this naturalistic approach by examining a recent debate between Joshua Greene and Selim Berker. We argue that Greene's research, if accurate, undermines attempts to reconcile opposing judgments about trolley cases, but that his attempt to debunk deontology fails. We then draw some general lessons (...) about the possibility of empirical debunking arguments in ethics. (shrink)
In recent years, philosophers and psychologists have resurrected a debate at the intersection of metaphysics and moralpsychology. The central question is whether we can conceive of moral agents as deterministic systems unfolding predictably and inevitably under constant laws without psychologically damaging the pro-social attitudes and moral emotions that grease the wheels of social life. These concerns are sparked by recent experiments documenting a decline in the ethical behavior of participants primed with deterministic metaphysics. But this (...) literature has done little to sway most contemporary philosophers who have instead emphasized determinism's positive social impact in motivating more compassionate responses to social deviance. This article presents the case for a middle position. It argues that the ?deterministic conception of human action? (the DCA) is likely to have a dual impact on human moralpsychology. On one hand, the DCA is likely to mollify one of our species? least admirable tendencies involving retributive moral anger, while concomitantly exacerbating one of our worst, namely our tendency toward moral apathy. This article begins with an overview of this emerging interdisciplinary debate, offers the evidence for a middle position, and concludes with suggestions for mitigating the negative social impact of deterministic metaphysics. (shrink)
This article is intended as an initial investigation into the foundations of moralpsychology. I primarily examine a recent work in moral education, Daniel Lapsley?s and Darcia Narvaez?s ?Character education?, whose authors seem to assume at points that criteria for discerning moral actions and moral traits can be derived apart from ethics or moral philosophy. This assumption, which appears to stem from misconceptions about both the virtues traditionally understood and the non-empirical nature of (...) class='Hi'>moral-philosophical theorising, is problematic: (1) it courts moral relativism, which would preclude arguing for the superiority of any model of moral education, (2) deriving or validating a morality through empirical methods involves a self-undermining stance about the nature of empirical justification and (3) empirical criteria used to delineate morality are unavoidably arbitrary. After examining similarly problematic works by David Wong and Lawrence Kohlberg, I conclude that moral psychologists must wrestle with the problem of moral criteria through substantive engagement with moral philosophy. (shrink)
Lawrence Kohlberg slayed the two dragons of twentieth-century psychology?behaviorism and psychoanalysis. His victory was a part of the larger cognitive revolution that shaped the world in which all of us study psychology and education today. But the cognitive revolution itself was modified by later waves of change, particularly an ?affective revolution? that began in the 1980s and an ?automaticity revolution? in the 1990s. In this essay I trace the history of moralpsychology within the broader intellectual (...) trends of psychology and I explain why I came to believe that moralpsychology had to change with the times. I explain the origins of my own social intuitionist model and of moral foundations theory. I offer three principles that I think should characterize moralpsychology in the twenty-first century: (1) Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second, (2) There?s more to morality than harm and fairness and (3) Morality binds and blinds. (shrink)
We explore the possibility that a priori philosophical commitments continue to result in a narrowing of inquiry in moralpsychology and education where theistic worldviews are concerned. Drawing from the theories of Edward L. Thorndike and John Dewey, we examine naturalistic philosophical commitments that influenced the study of moralpsychology and moral education in the USA. We then address the question of whether these foundational naturalistic commitments can be rendered as compatible with theistic commitments, using (...) both modernist and postmodern philosophical approaches that might be viewed as attempts at compatibility. Arguing that these attempts at compatibility fail, we draw from contemporary approaches to moralpsychology and education in order to illustrate how naturalistic commitments might prevent these approaches from adequately addressing theistic understandings and experiences of morality. (shrink)
Contemporary moralpsychology has been dominated by two broad traditions, one usually associated with Aristotle, the other with Kant. The broadly Aristotelian approach emphasizes the role of childhood upbringing in the development of good moral character, and the role of such character in ethical behavior. The broadly Kantian approach emphasizes the role of freely chosen conscious moral principles in ethical behavior. We review a growing body of experimental evidence that suggests that both of these approaches are (...) predicated on an implausible view of human psychology. This evidence suggests that both childhood upbringing and conscious moral principles have extraordinarily little impact on people's moral behavior. This paper argues that moralpsychology needs to take seriously a third approach, derived from Nietzsche. This approach emphasizes the role of heritable psychological and physiological traits in explaining behavior. In particular, it claims that differences in the degree to which different individuals behave morally can often be traced back to heritable differences between those individuals. We show that this third approach enjoys considerable empirical support - indeed that it is far better supported by the empirical data than are either the Aristotelian or Kantian traditions in moralpsychology. (shrink)
The ancient Greeks subscribed to the thesis of the Unity of Virtue, according to which the possession of one virtue is closely related to the possession of all the others. Yet empirical observation seems to contradict this thesis at every turn. What could the Greeks have been thinking of? The paper offers an interpretation and a tentative defence of a qualified version of the thesis. It argues that, as the Greeks recognized, virtue essentially involves knowledge ? specifically, evaluative knowledge of (...) what matters. Furthermore, such knowledge is essentially holistic. Perfect and complete possession of one virtue thus requires the knowledge that is needed for the possession of every other virtue. The enterprise of trying to reconcile the normative view embodied in this conception of virtue with empirical observation also serves as a case study for the field of moralpsychology in which empirical and normative claims are often deeply and confusingly intertwined.1. (shrink)
Moralpsychology investigates human functioning in moral contexts, and asks how these results may impact debate in ethical theory. This work is necessarily interdisciplinary, drawing on both the empirical resources of the human sciences and the conceptual resources of philosophical ethics. The present article discusses several topics that illustrate this type of inquiry: thought experiments, responsibility, character, egoism v . altruism, and moral disagreement.
In this article, I focus on two claims made by Appiah in Experiments in Ethics: Doris’s and Harman’s criticism of virtue ethics fails, and moralpsychology can be used to identify erroneous moral intuitions. I argue that both claims are erroneous.
Much recent work in meta-ethics and ethical theory has drawn extensively on claims about moralpsychology. The goal of this paper is to provide a broad overview of some of these claims and the implications that certain philosophers are taking them to have for the plausibility of moral relativism.
Normativity and the Will collects fourteen important papers on moralpsychology and practical reason by R. Jay Wallace, one of the leading philosophers currently working in these areas. The papers explore the interpenetration of normative and psychological issues in a series of debates that lie at the heart of moral philosophy. Themes that are addressed include reason, desire, and the will; responsibility, identification, and emotion; and the relation between morality and other normative domains. Wallace's treatments of these (...) topics are at once sophisticated and engaging. Taken together, they constitute an advertisement for a distinctive way of pursuing issues in moralpsychology and the theory of practical reason, and they articulate and defend a unified framework for thinking about those issues. The volume also features a helpful new introduction. (shrink)
Thought experimental methods play a central role in empirical moralpsychology. Against the increasingly common interpretation of recent experimental data, I argue that such methods cannot demonstrate that moral intuitions are produced by reflexive computations that are implicit, fast, and largely automatic. I demonstrate, in contrast, that evaluating thought experiments occurs at a near-glacial pace relative to the speed at which reflexive information processing occurs in a human brain. So, these methods allow for more reflective and deliberative (...) processing than has commonly been assumed. However, these methods may still provide insight into some human strategies for navigating unfamiliar moral dilemmas. (shrink)
Depending on how one looks at it, we have been enjoying or suffering a significant empirical turn in moralpsychology during this first decade of the 21st century. While philosophers have, from time to time, considered empirical matters with respect to morality, those who took an interest in actual (rather than ideal) moral agents were primarily concerned with whether particular moral theories were ‘too demanding’ for creatures like us (Flanagan, 1991; Williams, 1976; Wolf, 1982). Faithful adherence (...) to Utilitarianism or Kantianism would appear to be inconsistent with other things we value, like personal integrity and flourishing, which depend upon pursuing individually determined projects and ways of life in rather single-minded ways. Maximizing the good is a full-time job, and the impartiality recommended by Kantian theory can get in the way of showing special care for those we know and love. All this is standard philosophical fare. However, more recently, philosophers and psychologists have begun to treat moralpsychology as a legitimate branch of cognitive science. They inquire into the evolution of morality (e.g., Joyce, 2007; Nichols 2004), debate the human uniqueness of moral capacities (e.g., deWaal, 2006; Hauser, 2006), investigate the causal etiology of moral judgments (e.g., Haidt & Greene, 2002; Hauser et al., 2006; Prinz, 2006), attempt to map the neuroanatomy of moral reasoning (e.g., Greene et al., 2001; Greene et al., 2004; Moll, et al., 2005), and consider what other affective and cognitive capacities are required by a creature who sees the world in moral terms. (See also Sinnott-Armstrong, 2007, 2008a, 2008b). 1 In this essay, I discuss two issues whose interdependence and central importance for empirically informed moralpsychology have not been fully grasped, or so I believe. First is what I call the Explananda Challenge. Let us assume that the primary question for moralpsychology is this: How is it possible for human beings to be moral creatures? Deceptively simple, this question obscures a number of rather more difficult ones.. (shrink)
This paper defends both an interpretation of Mencius' moral theory and that theory itself against alternative interpretive defences. I argue that the 'virtue ethics' reading of Mencius wrongly sees him as denying the distinction between moral philosophy and moralpsychology. Virtue ethics is flawed, because it makes such a denial. But Mencius' moral theory, in spite of Mencius' obvious interest in moralpsychology, does not have that flaw. However, I argue that Mencius is (...) no rationalist. Instead, I show that he upholds a coherentist moral theory, in which reason and psychology both have a role. The final third of the paper compares my interpretation with the work of various important Mencius scholars. I point out that the issue of the difference between moral philosophy and moralpsychology is quite important in contemporary Western moral theory. (shrink)