Moral Psychology

Edited by Joshua May (University of Alabama, Birmingham)
About this topic
Summary Moral psychology is the study of phenomena such as moral thought, feeling, reasoning, and motivation. For example, in moral psychology, one wonders what role reasoning and emotions play in generating moral judgment. Similarly, one asks whether moral motivation has its source in reason or rather sentiments or desire. Other key issues include: the tight connection between moral judgment and motivation, altruism versus egoism, character, and even the evolution of moral capacities.  The topics reveal the partly empirical nature of the field, which makes it of necessity interdisciplinary, even though one can pursue many interesting issue from the armchair. Many of these philosophical problems have ramifications in others areas, especially metaethics. If, for example, moral judgment is grounded in sentiment, then this may support a non-cognitivists theory, which threatens moral realism.
Key works Issues in moral psychology have been dominant in the history of philosophy. Nadelhoffer et al 2010 provide a collection of key historical as well as contemporary readings. Focusing on more recent work, Smith's 1994 book has been highly influential in the literature, from moral judgment to motivation. Compare also Nagel 1970 and Korsgaard 1996. On the empirical side, Sinnott-Armstrong 2008 provides a comprehensive state of the art with three volumes full of new articles and replies from prominent philosophers and scientists. 
Introductions A brief introduction to some topics in moral psychology is in Slote 1998. Rosati's (2006) entry on moral motivation provides an introduction to one cluster of key issues in moral psychology. For a way into the empirical work, see Doris & Stich 2008, May 2017, and Doris 2010.
Related categories
Subcategories:See also:History/traditions: Moral Psychology

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  1. Theorizing About Faith with Lara Buchak.Daniel Howard-Snyder & Daniel J. McKaughan - forthcoming - Religious Studies.
    What is faith? Lara Buchak has done as much as anyone recently to answer our question in a sensible and instructive fashion. As it turns out, her writings reveal two theories of faith, an early one and a later one (or, if you like, two versions of the same theory). In what follows, we aim to do three things. First, we will state and assess Buchak’s early theory, highlighting both its good-making and bad-making features. Second, we will do the same (...)
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  2. The Guise of the Beautiful: Symposium 204d Ff.Jonathan Fine - 2019 - Phronesis 65 (2):129-152.
    A crux of Plato’s Symposium is how beauty relates to the good. Diotima distinguishes beauty from the good, I show, to explain how erotic pursuits are characteristically ambivalent and opaque. Human beings pursue beauty without knowing why or thinking it good; yet they are rational, if aiming at happiness. Central to this reconstruction is a passage widely taken to show that beauty either coincides with the good or demands disinterested admiration. It shows rather that what one loves as beautiful does (...)
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  3. Contagion, Community, and Virtue in Hume's Epistemology.Rico Vitz - 2014 - In Jon Matheson & Rico Vitz (eds.), The Ethics of Belief: Individual and Social. Oxford, UK:
    My aim in this chapter is twofold. I attempt to provide an example of how (1) careful analysis in the history of philosophy can (2) elucidate contemporary debates about philosophical issues. My analysis of Hume’s account of the contagion of belief unfolds in three parts. In section one, I offer a summary of Hume’s account of the nature of beliefs concerning matters of fact. In section two, I elucidate his account of the “contagion of opinion” itself, explaining how beliefs are (...)
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  4. The Instinct of Spirituality and an Analytic "Quantum - Psychoid" Psychology.Donato Santarcangelo - manuscript
    The thesis we’re going to present gets to maintain it impossible to disregard a quantum – psychoid change of the analytical psychology statute – being the psyche not separable from the matter – that finds its most accomplished and impressive epicentre in C.G.Jung and W.Pauli’s theory of the synchronicity.
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  5. Moral Psychology: Heartmind (Xin), Nature (Xing), and Emotions (Qing).Stephen C. Angle & Justin Tiwald - 2020 - In Kai-Chiu Ng & Yong Huang (eds.), Dao Companion to Zhu Xi's Philosophy. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. pp. 361-387.
    An overview of Zhu Xi's moral psychology, with a special focus on the metaphysical underpinnings and the relations between heartmind (xin), emotions (qing), and nature (xing). The authors explain how Zhu uses his account to balance the demand for independent standards of assessment with his commitment to ethical norms that virtuous agents can embrace wholeheartedly.
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  6. Interpersonal Obligation in Joint Action.Abraham Roth - 2018 - In Marija Jankovic & Kirk Ludwig (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Collective Intentionality. New York: Routledge. pp. 45-57.
  7. Kant on Moral Respect.Anastasia Berg - forthcoming - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie.
    Kant’s account of the feeling of moral respect has notoriously puzzled interpreters: on the one hand, moral action is supposed to be autonomous and, in particular, free of the mediation of any feeling; on the other hand, the subject’s grasp of the law somehow involves the feeling of moral respect. I argue that moral respect for Kant is not, pace both the ‘intellectualists’ and ‘affectivists,’ an effect of the determination of the will by the law—whether it be a mere effect (...)
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  8. Rational Learners and Metaethics: Universalism, Relativism, and Evidence From Consensus.Alisabeth Ayars & Shaun Nichols - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (1):67-89.
    Recent work in folk metaethics finds a correlation between perceived consensus about a moral claim and meta-ethical judgments about whether the claim is universally or only relatively true. We argue that consensus can provide evidence for meta-normative claims, such as whether a claim is universally true. We then report several experiments indicating that people use consensus to make inferences about whether a claim is universally true. This suggests that people's beliefs about relativism and universalism are partly guided by evidence-based reasoning. (...)
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  9. Desiring Under the Proper Guise.Michael Milona & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 14:121-143.
    According to the thesis of the guise of the normative, all desires are associated with normative appearances or judgments. But guise of the normative theories differ sharply over the content of the normative representation, with the two main versions being the guise of reasons and the guise of the good. Chapter 6 defends the comparative thesis that the guise of reasons thesis is more promising than the guise of the good. The central idea is that observations from the theory of (...)
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  10. Gewissen als Pflicht gegen sich selbst. Zur Entwicklung des forum internum von Pufendorf bis Kant.Katerina Mihaylova - 2015 - In Katerina Mihaylova & Simon Bunke (eds.), Gewissen. Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf das 18. Jahrhundert. Würzburg, Deutschland: pp. 53-70.
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  11. Anger, Affective Injustice and Emotion Regulation.Alfred Archer & Georgina Mills - forthcoming - Philosophical Topics.
    Victims of oppression are often called to let go of their anger in order to facilitate better discussion to bring about the end of their oppression. According to Amia Srinivasan (2018), this constitutes an affective injustice. In this paper, we use research on emotion regulation to shed light on the nature of affective injustice. By drawing on the literature on emotion regulation, we illustrate specifically what kind of work is put upon people who are experiencing affective injustice and why it (...)
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  12. Sublimation.John Trevor Davies - 1947 - New York: MacMillan.
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  13. Sex, Love, and Gender: A Kantian Theory.Helga Varden - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Sex, Love, and Gender is the first volume to present a comprehensive philosophical theory that brings together all of Kant's practical philosophy — found across his works on ethics, justice, anthropology, history, and religion — and provide a critique of emotionally healthy and morally permissible sexual, loving, gendered being. By rethinking Kant's work on human nature and making space for sex, love, and gender within his moral accounts of freedom, the book shows how, despite his austere and even anti-sex, cisist, (...)
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  14. Fear of the Gruffalo: A Case of Emotions as Testimony.Alison Duncan Kerr - forthcoming - In Lauren Ware (ed.), The Moral Psychology of Fear.
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  15. Anticipatory Guilt.Alison Duncan Kerr - 2019 - In Bradford Cokelet & Corey J. Maley (eds.), The Moral Psychology of Guilt.
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  16. Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, by Kate Manne. [REVIEW]Nora Berenstain - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1360-1371.
    Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny combines traditional conceptual analysis and feminist conceptual engineering with critical exploration of cases drawn from popular culture and current events in order to produce an ameliorative account of misogyny, i.e., one that will help address the problems of misogyny in the actual world. A feminist account of misogyny that is both intersectional and ameliorative must provide theoretical tools for recognizing misogyny in its many-dimensional forms, as it interacts and overlaps with other oppressions. (...)
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  17. An Adam Smithian Account of Moral Reasons.Nir Ben‐Moshe - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    The Humean Theory of Reasons, according to which all of our reasons for action are explained by our desires, has been criticized for not being able to account for “moral reasons,” namely, overriding reasons to act on moral demands regardless of one's desires. My aim in this paper is to utilize ideas from Adam Smith's moral philosophy in order to offer a novel and alternative account of moral reasons that is both desire-based and accommodating of an adequate version of the (...)
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  18. Making Sense of Smith on Sympathy and Approbation: Other-Oriented Sympathy as a Psychological and Normative Achievement.Nir Ben-Moshe - forthcoming - British Journal for the History of Philosophy:1-21.
    Two problems seem to plague Adam Smith’s account of sympathy and approbation in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (TMS). First, Smith’s account of sympathy at the beginning of TMS appears to be inconsistent with the account of sympathy at the end of TMS. In particular, it seems that Smith did not appreciate the distinction between ‘self-oriented sympathy’ and ‘other-oriented sympathy’, that is, between imagining being oneself in the actor’s situation and imagining being the actor in the actor’s situation. Second, Smith’s (...)
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  19. Ideological Surpassing Of Philosophy / Идеологическое Превосхождение Философии.Pavel Simashenkov - 2019 - Modern European Researches 4 (31):54-62.
    The article is devoted to the study of ideological and philosophical components correlation in the worldview formation. According to the author, it is fundamentally important to take for understanding Russian history and culture not speculative, but ideological coordinates as the basis. Ideology as a professed philosophy is incomparably higher than any palliative abstraction. It is necessary not to lower culture to the level of the masses, but to elevate a person to the level of culture, impossible without a cult.
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  20. Benjamin Franks, Stuart Hanscomb, and Sean F. Johnston, Environmental Ethics and Behavioural Change.Trevor Hedberg - 2018 - Teaching Ethics 18 (2):183-185.
    Environmental Ethics and Behavioral Change is a unique text that weaves together subject in ethics, moral psychology, and political philosophy to explore the ways in which people can be motivated to behave in more environmentally sustainable ways. In this review, I offer a short synopsis of the book and appraise its usefulness for teaching courses in environmental ethics and related areas.
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  21. Kierkegaard's Dancers of Faith and of Infinity.Alexander Jech - 2019 - Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 24:29-58.
    The goal of Fear and Trembling is to illuminate the difficulty of faith. At an important juncture, he claims that both types of knight are dancers, but only the knight of faith can dance perfectly, doing what perhaps no dancer can do: he does not “hesitate” in the moment between landing from his leap and assuming the position from which to reengage with finitude. This analogy has been given small attention in the literature. Given Kierkegaard’s surprisingly precise grasp of classical (...)
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  22. Agency, Akrasia, and the Normative Environment.Gregory Antill - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (3):321-338.
    Just as the existence of practical akrasia has been treated as important evidence for the existence of our practical agency, the alleged absence of epistemic akrasia—cases in which a believer believes some proposition contrary to her considered judgments about what she has most reason to believe—has recently been marshaled as grounds for skepticism about the existence of similar forms of epistemic agency. In this paper, I defend the existence of epistemic agency against such objections. Rather than argue against the impossibility (...)
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  23. Mencius, Hume, and the Virtue of Humanity: Sources of Benevolent Moral Development.Jeremiah Carey & Rico Vitz - 2019 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy:1-21.
    In this paper, we elucidate the moral psychology and what we might call the moral sociology of Mencius and of Hume, and we argue for three claims. First, we demonstrate that there are strong similarities between Mencius and Hume concerning some of the principal psychological sources of the virtue of humanity. Second, we show that there are strong similarities between the two concerning some of the principal social sources of the virtue of humanity. Third, we argue that there are related, (...)
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  24. Aesthetics of History: The Example of Russia / Эстетика Истории: Пример России.Pavel Simashenkov - 2019 - Modern European Researches 3 (2019):47-55.
    The article highlights the problem of studying historical time in terms of aesthetics and social ethics. The essence of history, according to the author, is not so much in retrospection or reflection, but in the gap between feeling and awareness. Guided by the apophatic method, the author analyzes the historiosophical views of domestic and foreign scholars and comes to the conclusion that the Soviet paradigm is true, where the only vector of human development is the liberation of labor in the (...)
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  25. Self-knowledge Of Beliefs Is Possible?Robson Barcelos - 2017 - FRONTISTÉS: Revista de Eletrônica Do Curso de Filosofia FAPAS 11 (20):1-7.
    This article is about self-knowledge on one's own mental states. Considering human as rational beings, this study aims to problematize the position of subject in process of self-knowledge, as well as to realize the state of knowledge about self-knowledge. In this way, Richard Moran constitutes the method of transparency about the knowledge of one's own mental states. Such a method receives some criticism from the philosopher Quassim Cassam and the philosopher Brie-Gertler. In the same extent, both authors problematize some characteristics (...)
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  26. Self-Knowledge and the possible moral consequences.Robson Barcelos - 2019 - Pólemos 8 (15):274-291.
    We are subject with consciousness. For this we have to have self-consciousness so that consciousness can exist. In this way, there is the possibility of self-knowledge of one's own mental states. Thus, the article aims at investigating the possibility of self-knowledge of one's own mental states, their applicability and consequences in relation to Kantian moral theory. Therefore, it reflects on how self-knowledge of one's own mental states and the characteristics of Kantian moral theory occur. Finally, there is the possibility of (...)
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  27. Experimental Ethics, Intuitions, and Morally Irrelevant Factors.Peter Königs - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-19.
    SEE BELOW ("EXTERNAL LINKS") FOR A FREELY AVAILABLE PDF OF THIS ARTICLE /// ABSTRACT: Studies suggest that people's moral intuitions are sensitive to morally irrelevant factors, such as personal force, spatial distance, ethnicity or nationality. Findings of this sort have been used to construct debunking arguments. The most prominent champion of this approach is Joshua Greene, who has attempted to undermine deontology by showing that deontological intuitions are triggered by morally irrelevant factors. This article offers a critical analysis of such (...)
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  28. Between Heteronomy and Authonomy. The Presage of Intention.Elisa Grimi - 2017 - Dialegesthai. Rivista Telematica di Filosofia 19 (Special Issue, Moral Heteronomy.).
  29. Survival of Defeat - Evolution, Moral Objectivity, and Undercutting.Michael Klenk - 2018 - Dissertation, Utrecht University
  30. When and Why is It Disrespectful to Excuse an Attitude?John Robison - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2391-2409.
    It is intuitive that, under certain circumstances, it can be disrespectful or patronizing to excuse someone for an attitude. While it is easy enough to find instances where it seems disrespectful to excuse an attitude, matters are complicated. When and why, precisely, is it disrespectful to judge that someone is not responsible for his attitude? In this paper, I show, first, that the extant philosophical literature on this question is underdeveloped and overgeneralized: the writers who address the question suggest quite (...)
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  31. Are the Folk Historicists About Moral Responsibility?Matthew Taylor & Heather Maranges - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology:1-22.
    Manipulation cases have figured prominently in philosophical debates about whether moral responsibility is in some sense deeply historical. Meanwhile, some philosophers have thought that folk thinking about manipulated agents may shed some light on the various argumentative burdens facing participants in that debate. This paper argues that folk thinking is, to some extent, deeply historical. Across three experiments, it is shown that a substantial number of participants did not attribute moral responsibility to agents with manipulation in their histories. The results (...)
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  32. The Value of Critical Knowledge, Ethics and Education: Philosophical History Bringing Epistemic and Critical Values to Values.Ignace Haaz - 2019 - Geneva, Switzerland: Globethics Publications.
    This book aims at six important conceptual tools developed by philosophers. The author develops each particular view in a chapter, hoping to constitute at the end a concise, interesting and easily readable whole. These concepts are: 1. Ethics and realism: elucidation of the distinction between understanding and explanation – the lighthouse type of normativity. 2. Leadership, antirealism and moral psychology – the lightning rod type of normativity. 3. Bright light on self-identity and positive reciprocity – the reciprocity type of normativity. (...)
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  33. Why the Indifference of the Universe is Irrelevant to Life’s Meaning.Brooke Alan Trisel - 2019 - Human Affairs 29 (4):453-461.
    When pessimists claim that human life is meaningless, they often also assert that the universe is “blind to good and evil” and “indifferent to us”. How, if it all, is the indifference of the universe relevant to whether life is meaningful? To answer this question, and to know whether we should be concerned that the universe is indifferent, we need a clearer and deeper understanding of the concept of “cosmic indifference”, which I will seek to provide. I will argue that (...)
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  34. The Motivational Structure of Appreciation.Servaas van der Berg - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (276):445-466.
    On a widely held view in aesthetics, appreciation requires disinterested attention. George Dickie famously criticized a version of this view championed by the aesthetic attitude theorists. I revisit his criticisms and extract an overlooked challenge for accounts that seek to characterize appreciative engagement in terms of distinctive motivation: at minimum, the motivational profile such accounts propose must make a difference to how appreciative episodes unfold over time. I then develop a proposal to meet this challenge by drawing an analogy between (...)
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  35. The Philosophy of the Mozi: The First Consequentialists.Chris Fraser - 2016 - New York: Columbia University Press.
  36. Whence the Demand for Ethical Theory?Matthieu Queloz & Damian Cueni - forthcoming - American Philosophical Quarterly.
    Where does the impetus towards ethical theory come from? What drives humans to make values explicit, consistent, and discursively justifiable? This paper situates the demand for ethical theory in human life by identifying the practical needs that give rise to it. Such a practical derivation puts the demand in its place: while finding a place for it in the public decision-making of modern societies, it also imposes limitations on the demand by presenting it as scalable and context-sensitive. This differentiates strong (...)
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  37. Experimental Philosophy and the Fruitfulness of Normative Concepts.Matthew Lindauer - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-24.
  38. Augustine De Libero Arbitrio - Harrison Augustine's Way Into the Will. The Theological and Philosophical Significance of De Libero Arbitrio. Pp. Xii + 191. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Cased, £45. ISBN: 978-0-19-826984-7. [REVIEW]Sarah Byers - 2010 - The Classical Review 60 (1):145-147.
  39. Faith.Daniel Howard-Snyder - 2014 - In Robert Audi (ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy , 3rd edition. New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
    A brief article on faith as a psychological attitude.
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  40. Kant, Guyer, and Tomasello on the Capacity to Recognize the Humanity of Others.Lucas Thorpe - 2018 - In Kate Moran (ed.), Kant on Freedom and Spontaneity. pp. 107-136.
  41. Who's Messing With Your Mind?Myisha Cherry - 2015 - In Robert Greene & Rachel Robison-Greene (eds.), Orange is the New Black and Philosophy. Open Court.
    In this chapter, mixed with moral psychology and ethics, I explore the topic of manipulation by analyzing “Orange Is The New Black” season two antagonist, Yvonne “Vee” Parker. I claim that Vee is a master manipulator. I begin by laying out several definitions and features of manipulation. Definitions include covert influence, non-rational influence, the effect of non-rational influence, and intentionally making someone or altering a situation to make someone succumb to weaknesses. Features include trust, deception, emotion, false belief, and vulnerability. (...)
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  42. Improving Practical Reasoning and Argumentation.Michael D. Baumtrog - 2015 - Dissertation, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
    This thesis justifies the need for and develops a new integrated model of practical reasoning and argumentation. After framing the work in terms of what is reasonable rather than what is rational (chapter 1), I apply the model for practical argumentation analysis and evaluation provided by Fairclough and Fairclough (2012) to a paradigm case of unreasonable individual practical argumentation provided by mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik (chapter 2). The application shows that by following the model, Breivik is relatively easily able (...)
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  43. Approaches to Faith, Guest Editorial Preface.Daniel Howard Snyder, Rebekah L. H. Rice & Daniel J. McKaughan - 2017 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 81 (Special Double Issue):1-7.
    Springer. We find in contemporary culture starkly contrasting estimates of the value of faith. On the one hand, for many people, faith is a virtue or positive human value, something associated with understanding, hope, and love, something to be inculcated, maintained, and cherished. On the other hand, for many people, faith is a vice, something associated with dogmatism, arrogance, and close-mindedness, something to be avoided at all costs. The papers included in this special (double) issue on approaches to faith explore (...)
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  44. The ordinary concept of weakness of will.Ali Yousefi Heris - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 8 (1):123-139.
    Recently, a number of experimental philosophers have converged on the position that the ordinary concept of weakness of will does not solely consist in “judgment” or “intention” violation but is more like a cluster concept in which each factor plays contributory roles in the application of the concept. This, however, raises the question as to which factor is more central or plays a more significant role in folk’s understanding of the concept. I contend that the ordinary concept of weakness of (...)
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  45. Social and Political Dimensions of Hope.Katie Stockdale - 2019 - Journal of Social Philosophy 50 (1):28-44.
    A few years ago, it was common for philosophers to begin inquiry into hope by noting that the subject has received little attention in the philosophical literature. But our ability to make this claim is quickly coming to an end; hope has been earning increasing recognition in the discipline, with philosophers exploring important questions related to the nature of hope, what makes hope rational, and how hope is connected to human wellbeing and agency. Despite this recent interest, however, there remains (...)
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  46. Three Arguments to Think That Faith Does Not Entail Belief.Daniel Howard‐Snyder - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (1):114-128.
    On doxastic theories of propositional faith,necessarily,S has faith that p only if S believes that p. On nondoxastic theories of propositional faith, it’s false that,necessarily,S has faith that p only if S believes that p. In this article, I defend three arguments for nondoxastic theories of faith and I respond to published criticisms of them.
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  47. Social Dimensions of Responsibility.Robin Zheng - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):0-0.
    Volume 97, Issue 4, December 2019, Page 843-844.
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  48. Is Self-Regulation a Burden or a Virtue? A Comparative Perspective.Hagop Sarkissian - 2014 - In Nancy Snow & Franco V. Trivigno (eds.), The Philosophy and Psychology of Character and Happiness: An Empirical Approach to Character and Happiness. New York, NY, USA: pp. 181-196.
    Confucianism demands that individuals comport themselves according to the strictures of ritual propriety—specific forms of speech, clothing, and demeanor attached to a vast array of life circumstances. This requires self-regulation, a cognitive resource of limited supply. When this resource is depleted, a person can experience undesirable consequences such as social isolation and alienation. However, one’s cultural background may be an important mediator of such costs; East Asians, in particular, seem to have comparatively greater self-regulatory strength. I offer some considerations as (...)
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  49. Organic Social Change.James Abordo Ong - 2017 - Distinktion 18 (1):59-81.
    The distinctness of each person’s life and experience is an important consideration in dominant accounts of how democratic institutions should distribute basic rights and liberties. Drawing on recent social movements, philosophers like Iris Marion Young, Miranda Fricker, and Axel Honneth have nonetheless drawn attention to the distinctive claims and challenges that plurality and difference entrain in democratic societies by analysing how the dominant discourses on rights and justice tend to elide, obscure, or reify the lived experiences of individuals belonging to (...)
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  50. Environmental Heritage and the Ruins of the Future.Erich Hatala Matthes - 2019 - In Carolyn Korsmeyer, Jeanette Bicknell & Jennifer Judkins (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Ruins, Monuments, and Memorials. Routledge.
    We now have good reason to worry that many coastal cities will be flooded by the end of the century. How should we confront this possibility (or inevitability)? What attitudes should we adopt to impending inundation of such magnitude? In the case of place-loss due to anthropogenic climate change, I argue that there may ultimately be something fitting about letting go, both thinking prospectively, when the likelihood of preservation is bleak, and retrospectively, when we reflect on our inability to prevent (...)
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