A Dual-Process Account of Moral Judgment: What Psychopaths Can Teach Us About Morality

Dissertation, Carleton University (2016)

Researchers who argue that moral judgment is based on emotions (`emotion-backers') and those who believe that it is based on reasoning and deliberation (`reasoning-backers') have both struggled to account for the notorious moral deviance of incarcerated psychopaths. Emotion-backers, such as Jonathan Haidt, focus on psychopaths' lack of a affect,or defciencies in particular emotions, such as sympathy. Reasoning-backers, such as Lawrence Kohlberg, focus instead on psychopaths' de cient reasoning. Both accounts offer separate descriptions of what goes wrong in the disorder, but neither can fully explain psychopathic moral deviance. The moral account that I built, bridges these accounts in an attempt to better and more fully describe the empirical data available on psychopathic moral judgment. I argue that their judgment is best explained with a dual-process account of moral judgment that incorporates a large system of moral emotions as well as integrates multiple bases of morality, such as concerns of fairness, harm, and purity. It is only by focusing on both the reasoning and emotional de cits in psychopaths that we can begin to understand psychopaths' use of utilitarian reasoning, general population psychopaths, and psychopaths' di erential presence in the prison popu- lation. All of these issues are best described using a dual-process account of moral judgment that incorporates a larger system of moral emotions than other accounts of morality as well as a pluralistic conception of moral foundations. I used psychopaths because their moral deviance can teach us about morality more broadly. By understanding the cognitive processes implicated in the moral judgment of psychopaths, I better explain how moral judgment works in the general population more broadly. My account of moral judgment has both theoretical and practical applications. Theoretically, it o ers a new dual-process paradigm for describing moral behaviour which bridges reasoning-based and emotion-based accounts. This description can explain both the moral deviance of psychopaths as well as, more broadly, moral judgment in non-psychopaths. Additionally, my theory challenges accounts of moral emotion that narrowly focus on speci c emotions, such as guilt or empathy. It in- stead integrates all emotions, including disgust, fear, and sympathy, and links speci c emotions to moral judgments. Practically, my paradigm of moral judgment encourages the development of new moral judgment measurements such as new self-report questionnaires of moral reasoning. According to my research, in order for these tools to accurately measure morality, they need to account for both emotion-based and reasoning-based judgments.
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Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.
The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2009 - Analysis 69 (4):701-704.

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