What Experimental Evidence Shows Us about the Role of Emotions in Moral Judgement

Philosophy Compass 5 (11):999-1012 (2010)
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Abstract

In empirically minded research, it is widely agreed that emotions play an important, even essential, role in moral judgment. Experimental research on moral development, psychopathology, helping behavior, moral judgment, and moral justification has been used to support different new forms of sentimentalism. This article reviews this evidence critically and proposes that although it suggests that emotions play a role in moral judgment, it does so in a more limited way than is often assumed to be the case. Some evidence shows merely that emotions play a role in decision-making, other that emotions are implicated in certain types of moral judgment. What is required, it seems, is a new conceptualization of what is at stake in the rationalism versus sentimentalism debate.

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Heidi L. Maibom
University of Cincinnati

Citations of this work

Moral Rationalism on the Brain.Joshua May - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (1):237-255.
Moral Reasoning and Emotion.Joshua May & Victor Kumar - 2018 - In Karen Jones, Mark Timmons & Aaron Zimmerman (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 139-156.
Embodied cognition.A. Wilson Robert & Foglia Lucia - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Limits of Emotion in Moral Judgment.Joshua May - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Franc╠žois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press. pp. 286-306.
Moral Judgment and Deontology: Empirical Developments.Joshua May - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (11):745-755.

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References found in this work

The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
Wise choices, apt feelings: a theory of normative judgment.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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