Moral cognition, affect, and psychopathy

Philosophical Psychology 27 (6):807-828 (2014)
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Few theorists would challenge the idea that affect and emotion directly influence decision-making and moral judgment. There is good reason to think that they also significantly assist in decision-making and judgment, and in fact are necessary for fully effective moral cognition. However, they are not sufficient. Deliberation and more reflective thought processes likewise play a crucial role, and in fact are inseparable from affective processes. I will argue that while the dual-process account of moral judgment set forth by Craigie (2011) has great merit, it fails to appreciate fully the extent to which affective and reflective processes are not only integrated, but also mutually interdependent. Evidence from psychopathy indicates that when reflective processes are not assisted adequately by what I will call ?affective framing?, and moral cognition is of the ?cooler,? less emotionally-informed variety, what results is not effective cognitive functioning, but rather psychopathology. My proposed account of affective framing aims to make sense of the way in which affect plays a strictly necessary and integral role not just in intuitive moral responses, but also in reflective moral judgments, so that moral cognition is accomplished by the joint operation of affective processes and reflective reasoning processes.



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Michelle Maiese
Emmanuel College