The present study aims to examine the relationship between the cortical midline structures (CMS), which have been regarded to be associated with selfhood, and moral decision making processes at the neural level. Traditional moral psychological studies have suggested the role of moral self as the moderator of moral cognition, so activity of moral self would present at the neural level. The present study examined the interaction between the CMS and other moral-related regions by conducting (...) psycho-physiological interaction analysis of functional images acquired while 16 subjects were solving moral dilemmas. Furthermore, we performed Granger causality analysis to demonstrate the direction of influences between activities in the regions in moral decision-making. We first demonstrate there are significant positive interactions between two central CMS seed regions—i.e., the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC)—and brain regions associated with moral functioning including the cerebellum, brainstem, midbrain, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex and anterior insula (AI); on the other hand, the posterior insula (PI) showed significant negative interaction with the seed regions. Second, several significant Granger causality was found from CMS to insula regions particularly under the moral-personal condition. Furthermore, significant dominant influence from the AI to PI was reported. Moral psychological implications of these findings are discussed. The present study demonstrated the significant interaction and influence between the CMS and morality-related regions while subject were solving moral dilemmas. Given that, activity in the CMS is significantly involved in human moral functioning. (shrink)
Our brains were designed for tribal life, for getting along with a select group of others and for fighting off everyone else. But modern times have forced the world’s tribes into a shared space, resulting in epic clashes of values along with unprecedented opportunities. As the world shrinks, the moral lines that divide us become more salient and more puzzling. We fight over everything from tax codes to gay marriage to global warming, and we wonder where, if at all, (...) we can find our common ground. (shrink)
Some argue that humans should enhance their moral capacities by adopting institutions that facilitate morally good motives and behaviour. I have defended a parallel claim: that we could permissibly use biomedical technologies to enhance our moral capacities, for example by attenuating certain counter-moral emotions. John Harris has recently responded to my argument by raising three concerns about the direct modulation of emotions as a means to moral enhancement. He argues that such means will be relatively ineffective (...) in bringing about moral improvements, that direct modulation of emotions would invariably come at an unacceptable cost to our freedom, and that we might end up modulating emotions in ways that actually lead to moral decline. In this article I outline some counter-intuitive potential implications of Harris' claims. I then respond individually to his three concerns, arguing that they license only the very weak conclusion that moral enhancement via direct emotion modulation is sometimes impermissible. However I acknowledge that his third concern might, with further argument, be developed into a more troubling objection to such enhancements. (shrink)
Children and adolescents with hearing impairments are at risk of being excluded from activities with hearing peers. Moralemotion attributions may represent important indicators for children’s identification with the moral norm not to exclude peers based on disability. Against this background, we investigated how 10-, 12- and 15-year-olds feel and judge about social exclusion of peers with hearing impairments. Emotion attributions and moral judgements were assessed using four different hypothetical scenarios about the exclusion of peers (...) with hearing impairments. Moreover, children’s and adolescents’ inclusive behaviour was assessed by a peer nomination procedure. Results revealed that moralemotion attributions differed as a function of exclusion context and grade. Moreover, participants with inclusive behaviour attributed moral emotions more often than participants with less inclusive behaviour. Implications of the results for moral education are discussed. (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others.
This study presents the first neuroimaging investigation of female psychopathy in an incarcerated population. Prior studies have found that male psychopathy is associated with reduced limbic and paralimbic activation when processing emotional stimuli and making moral judgments. The goal of this study was to investigate whether these findings extend to female psychopathy. During fMRI scanning, 157 incarcerated and 46 non-incarcerated female participants viewed unpleasant pictures, half which depicted moral transgressions, and neutral pictures. Participants rated each picture on (...) class='Hi'>moral transgression severity. Psychopathy was assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in all incarcerated participants. Non-incarcerated participants were included as a control group to derive brain regions of interest associated with viewing unpleasant vs. neutral pictures (emotion contrast), and unpleasant pictures depicting moral transgressions vs. unpleasant pictures without moral transgressions (moral contrast). Regression analyses in the incarcerated group examined the association between PCL-R scores and brain activation in the emotion and moral contrasts. Results of the emotion contrast revealed a negative correlation between PCL-R scores and activation in the right amygdala and rostral anterior cingulate. Results of the moral contrast revealed a negative correlation between PCL-R scores and activation in the right temporo-parietal junction. These results indicate that female psychopathy, like male psychopathy, is characterized by reduced limbic activation during emotion processing. In contrast, reduced temporo-parietal activation to moral transgressions has been less observed in male psychopathy. These results extend prior findings in male psychopathy to female psychopathy, and reveal aberrant neural responses to morally-salient stimuli that may be unique to female psychopathy. (shrink)
Creepiness and the emotion of the creeps have been overlooked in the moral philosophy and moral psychology literatures. We argue that the creeps is a morally significant emotion in its own right, and not simply a type of fear, disgust, or anger (though it shares features with those emotions). Reflecting on cases, we defend a novel account of the creeps as felt in response to creepy people. According to our moral insensitivity account, the creeps is (...) fitting just when its object is agential activity that is insensitive to basic moral considerations. When, only when, and insofar as someone is disposed to such insensitivity, they are a creep. Such insensitivity, especially in extreme forms, raises doubts about creeps’ moral agency. We distinguish multiple types of insensitivity, respond to concerns that feeling the creeps is itself objectionable, and conclude with a discussion of epistemic issues relating to the creeps. (shrink)
This paper argues that an emotion is a state of affectively perceiving its intentional object as falling under a "thick affective concept" A, a concept that combines cognitive and affective aspects in a way that cannot be pulled apart. For example, in a state of pity an object is seen as pitiful, where to see something as pitiful is to be in a state that is both cognitive and affective. One way of expressing an emotion is to assert (...) that the intentional object of the emotion falls under the thick affective concept distinctive of the emotion. I argue that the most basic kind of moral judgment is is this category. It has the form "That is A" (pitiful, contemptible, rude, etc.). Such judgments combine the features of cognitivism and motivational judgment internalism, an advantage that explains why we find moral weakness problematic in spite of its ubiquity. I then outline a process I call "thinning" the judgment, which explains how moral strength, weakness, and apathy arise. I argue that this process is necessary for moral reasoning and communication, in spite of its disadvantage in disengaging the agent's motivating emotion from the judgment. (shrink)
In an effort to reclaim women's moral psychology, feminist philosophers have reevaluated several seemingly negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. However, one negative emotion has yet to receive adequate attention from feminist philosophers: contempt. 1 argue that feminists should reconsider what role feelings of contempt for male oppressors and male'dominated institutions and practices should play in our lives. 1 begin by surveying four feminist defenses of the negative emotions. I then offer a brief sketch of the (...) nature and moral significance of contempt, and argue that contempt can be morally and politically valuable for the same reasons that feminists have defended other negative emotions. I close by considering why feminists have been hesitant to defend contempt as a morally and politically important emotion. (shrink)
Studies of normal individuals reveal an asymmetry in the folk concept of intentional action: an action is more likely to be thought of as intentional when it is morally bad than when it is morally good. One interpretation of these results comes from the hypothesis that emotion plays a critical mediating role in the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. According to this hypothesis, the negative emotional response triggered by a morally bad action drives (...) the attribution of intent to the actor, or the judgment that the actor acted intentionally. We test this hypothesis by presenting cases of morally bad and morally good action to seven individuals with deficits in emotional processing resulting from damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC). If normal emotional processing is necessary for the observed asymmetry, then individuals with VMPC lesions should show no asymmetry. Our results provide no support for this hypothesis: like normal individuals, those with VMPC lesions showed the same asymmetry, tending to judge that an action was intentional when it was morally bad but not when it was morally good. Based on this finding, we suggest that normal emotional processing is not responsible for the observed asymmetry of intentional attributions and thus does not mediate the relationship between an action’s moral status and its intentional status. (shrink)
This chapter discusses contemporary scientific research on the role of reason and emotion in moral judgment. The literature suggests that moral judgment is influenced by both reasoning and emotion separately, but there is also emerging evidence of the interaction between the two. While there are clear implications for the rationalism-sentimentalism debate, we conclude that important questions remain open about how central emotion is to moral judgment. We also suggest ways in which moral philosophy (...) is not only guided by empirical research but continues to guide it. (shrink)
Life, on a day to day basis, is a sequence of emotional states: hope, disappointment, irritation, anger, affection, envy, pride, embarrassment, joy, sadness and many more. We know intuitively that these states express deep things about our character and our view of the world. But what are emotions and why are they so important to us? In one of the most extensive investigations of the emotions ever published, Robert Roberts develops a novel conception of what emotions are and then applies (...) it to a large range of types of emotion and related phenomena. In so doing he lays the foundations for a deeper understanding of our evaluative judgments, our actions, our personal relationships and our fundamental well-being. Aimed principally at philosophers and psychologists, this book will certainly be accessible to readers in other disciplines such as religion and anthropology. (shrink)
Instead of arguing about whether moral judgments are based on emotion or reason, moral psychologists should investigate the reliability of moral judgments by checking rates of framing effects in different kinds of moral judgments under different conditions by different people.
This paper argues that an emotion is a state of affectively perceiving its intentional object as falling under a “thick affective concept” A, a concept that combines cognitive and affective aspects in a way that cannot be pulled apart. For example, in a state of pity an object is seen as pitiful, where to see something as pitiful is to be in a state that is both cognitive and affective. One way of expressing an emotion is to assert (...) that the intentional object of the emotion falls under the thick affective concept distinctive of the emotion. I argue that the most basic kind of moral judgment is in this category. It has the form “That is A”. Such judgments combine the features of cognitivism and motivational judgment internalism, an advantage that explains why we find moral weakness problematic in spite of its ubiquity. I then outline a process I call “thinning” the judgment, which explains how moral strength, weakness, and apathy arise. I argue that this process is necessary for moral reasoning and communication, in spite of its disadvantage in disengaging the agent’s motivating emotion from the judgment. (shrink)
The history and philosophy of affective terms and concepts contains important challenges for contemporary scientific accounts of emotion regulation. First, there is the problem of moral undertow. This arises because stipulating the ends of emotion regulation requires normative assumptions that ultimately derive from values and morals. Some historical precedents are considered to help explain and address this problem. Second, there is the problem of organization. This arises because multiple emotions are often organized and oriented in very particular (...) ways over the life of the individual in a manner that cannot be adequately explained using the concept of “emotion.” A modern variant of the traditional concept of passion is invoked to help address this problem. (shrink)
David Nivison has argued that Mèngzǐ 孟子 postulates only one source of moral motivation, whereas Mèngzǐ’s rival thinkers such as Gàozǐ 告子 or the Mohist Yí Zhī 夷之 additionally postulate “maxims” or “doctrines” that are produced by some sort of moral reasoning. In this essay I critically examine this interpretation of Nivison’s, and alternatively argue that moral emotions in Mèngzǐ, basically understood as concern-based construals, are often an insufficient source of moral action, and an additional source (...) of moral motivation, specifically a conviction or judgment of what is the right thing to do in a certain situation in question, is often necessary for one to complete a moral action. This implies that Mèngzǐ should be interpreted to postulate two sources of moral motivation just as his rival thinkers do, namely moralemotion on one hand and judgment and practical reasoning on the other. (shrink)
Recent work in the cognitive and neurobiological sciences indicates an important relationship between emotion and moral judgment. Based on this evidence, several researchers have argued that emotions are the source of our intuitive moral judgments. However, despite the richness of the correlational data between emotion and morality, we argue that the current neurological, behavioral, developmental and evolutionary evidence is insufﬁcient to demonstrate that emotion is necessary for making moral judgments. We suggest instead, that the (...) source of moral judgments lies in our causal-intentional psychology; emotion often follows from these judgments, serving a primary role in motivating morally relevant action. (shrink)
For much of the twentieth century, philosophy and science went their separate ways. In moral philosophy, fear of the so-called naturalistic fallacy kept moral philosophers from incorporating developments in biology and psychology. Since the 1990s, however, many philosophers have drawn on recent advances in cognitive psychology, brain science, and evolutionary psychology to inform their work. This collaborative trend is especially strong in moral philosophy, and these three volumes bring together some of the most innovative work by both (...) philosophers and psychologists in this emerging interdisciplinary field. The neuroscience of morality is in its infancy, with the first brain imaging studies of moral development undertaken only in 2001. The contributors to volume 3 sample the best work in this very new field, discussing a variety of approaches, including functional imaging, lesion studies, abnormal psychology, and developmental neuroscience. Each chapter includes an essay, comments on the essay by other scholars, and a reply by the author of the original essay. Topics include the neural basis of moral emotions and moral judgments as well as comparisons of normal adult moral judgments with those made by children, adolescents, and people with psychopathy, brain damage, and autism. Contributors to volume 3:_ _Abigail Baird, William Casebeer, Cordelia Fine, Nathan Fox, Uta Frith, Jordan Grafman, Joshua Greene, Catherine Hynes, Fatima Azavedo Ignacio, Richard Joyce, Jerome Kagan, Leonard Katz, Kent Kiehl, Jeanette Kennett, Melanie Killen, Daniel Lapsley, Heidi Maibom, Victoria McGeer, John Mikhail, Jorge Moll, Shaun Nichols, Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Adina Roskies, Jana Schaich Borg, Katrina Sifferd, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Michael Smith, Mark Timmons, Frederick de Vignemont, Paul Whalen, Roland Zahn. (shrink)
In The Stubborn System of Moral Responsibility (2015), Bruce Waller sets out to explain why the belief in individual moral responsibility is so strong. He begins by pointing out that there is a strange disconnect between the strength of philosophical arguments in support of moral responsibility and the strength of philosophical belief in moral responsibility. While the many arguments in favor of moral responsibility are inventive, subtle, and fascinating, Waller points out that even the most (...) ardent supporters of moral responsibility acknowledge that the arguments in its favor are far from conclusive; and some of the least confident concerning the arguments for moral responsibility—such as Van Inwagen—are most confident of the truth of moral responsibility. Thus, argues Waller, whatever the verdict on the strength of philosophical arguments for moral responsibility, it is clear that belief in moral responsibility—whether among philosophers or the folk—is based on something other than philosophical reasons. -/- He goes on to argue that there are several sources for the strong belief in moral responsibility, but the following four are particularly influential: First, moral responsibility is based in a powerful “strike back” emotion that we share with other animals. Second, there is a deep-rooted “belief in a just world”—a belief that, according to Waller, most philosophers reject when they consciously consider it, but which has a deep nonconscious influence on what we regard as just treatment and which provides subtle (but mistaken) support for belief in moral responsibility. Third, there is a pervasive moral responsibility system—extending over criminal justice as well as “common sense”—that makes the truth of moral responsibility seem obvious, and makes challenges to moral responsibility seem incoherent. Finally, there is the enormous confidence we have in the power of reason, which mistakenly leads us to believe that our conscious, rational, and critically reflective selves are constantly guiding our behavior in accordance with our deep values. -/- In these comments, I would like to discuss the many points of agreement I have with Waller, providing along the way additional fuel for his skeptical fire (i.e., his moral responsibility skepticism and his skeptical analysis of the source of our strong belief in moral responsibility). I will also discuss, however, my one main point of disagreement—i.e., his desire to preserve the conception of free will. Waller believes free will can “flourish” in the absence of moral responsibility (see Ch.8), while I maintain they that the variety of free will that is of central philosophical and practical importance is the sort required for moral responsibility in a particular but pervasive sense. This sense of moral responsibility is set apart by the notion of basic desert and is purely backward-looking and non-consequentialist (see Pereboom 2001, 2014; Caruso and Morris, forthcoming). Understood this way, the sort of free will at issue in the historical debate is a kind of power or ability an agent must possess in order to justify certain kinds of desert-based judgments, attitudes, or treatments in response to decisions or actions that the agent performed or failed to perform. (shrink)
Grief is often described as characterized by a particular emotional response to another person’s death. While this is true of paradigm cases, we argue that a broader notion of grief allows accommodating forms of this emotional experience that deviate from the paradigmatic case. The bulk of the paper explores such a nonparadigmatic form of grief, anticipatory-vicarious grief, which is typically triggered by pondering the inevitability of our own death. We argue that AV-grief is a particular moralemotion that (...) serves a unique function and is indissolubly linked to the practical identities of human agents. An agent’s AV-grief is about the harm that occurs to individuals whose practical identities depend on the agent. (shrink)
People’s feelings about political issues are often experienced as moral convictions, that is, as rooted in beliefs about right and wrong, morality and immorality. The authors tested and found that morally convicted policy preferences are associated with positive as well as negative emotions among policy supporters and opponents, respectively, and that positive and negative emotions partially mediate the effects of moral convictions on relevant behavioral intentions (i.e., willingness to engage in activism).
Moral judgment has typically been characterized as a conflict between emotion and reason. In recent years, a central concern has been determining which process is the chief contributor to moral behavior. While classic moral theorists claimed that moral evaluations stem from consciously controlled cognitive processes, recent research indicates that affective processes may be driving moral behavior. Here, we propose a new way of thinking about emotion within the context of moral judgment, one (...) in which affect is generated and transformed by both automatic and controlled processes, and moral evaluations are shifted accordingly. We begin with a review of how existing theories in psychology and neuroscience address the interaction between emotion and cognition, and how these theories may inform the study of moral judgment. We then describe how brain regions involved in both affective processing and moral judgment overlap and may make distinct contributions to the moral evaluation process. Finally, we discuss how this way of thinking about emotion can be reconciled with current theories in moral psychology before mapping out future directions in the study of moral behavior. (shrink)
Despite the fact that common sense taxes emotions with irrationality, philosophers have, by and large, celebrated their functionality. They are credited with motivating, steadying, shaping or harmonizing our dispositions to act, and with policing norms of social behaviour. It's time to restore emotion's bad rep. To this end, I shall argue that we should expect that some of the “norms” enforced by emotions will be unevenly distributed among the members of our species, and may be dysfunctional at the individual, (...) social, moral, or even species levels. I”ll adduce three considerations in support of that pessimistic view: The fallacy of adaptive fixation, the moral randomness of group selection, and the lack of fit between “natural norms” set up by evolution and those moral and social norms we would like philosophy to justify. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue against a perceptual model of moral epistemology. We should not reject the claim that there is a sense in which, on some occasions, emotions may be said to be perceptions of values or reasons. But going further than this, and taking perception as a model for moral epistemology is unhelpful and unilluminating. By focusing on the importance of the dispositions and structures of the self to moral knowledge, I bring out important disanalogies (...) between moral epistemology and typical cases of perceptual expertise. As a result, how we gain, or fail to gain, moral knowledge should not be understood in terms of the operation of a perceptual capacity. (shrink)
In an effort to reclaim women's moral psychology, feminist philosophers have reevaluated several seemingly negative emotions such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. However, one negative emotion has yet to receive adequate attention from feminist philosophers: contempt. I argue that feminists should reconsider what role feelings of contempt for male oppressors and male-dominated institutions and practices should play in our lives. I begin by surveying four feminist defenses of the negative emotions. I then offer a brief sketch of the (...) nature and moral significance of contempt, and argue that contempt can be morally and politically valuable for the same reasons that feminists have defended other negative emotions. I close by considering why feminists have been hesitant to defend contempt as a morally and politically important emotion. (shrink)
This book brings together twenty-three distinctive and influential essays on ancient moral philosophy--including several published here for the first time--by the distinguished philosopher and classical scholar John Cooper.
One of the central questions in both metaethics and empirical moral psychology is whether moral judgments are the products of reason or emotions. This way of putting the question relies on an overly simplified view of reason and emotion as two fully independent cognitive faculties whose causal contributions to moral judgment can be cleanly separated. However, there is a significant body of evidence in the cognitive sciences that seriously undercuts this conception of reason and emotion, (...) and supports the view that moral judgments are caused by a complex interplay of psychological mechanisms that are both cognitive and affective, but in a way that is not simply a function of the independent causal contributions of reason and emotion. The paper concludes by considering the implications of this view for metaethics. (shrink)
This paper offers a sustained philosophical meditation on contrasting interpretations of the emotion of shame within four academic discourses—social psychology, psychological anthropology, educational psychology and Aristotelian scholarship—in order to elicit their implications for moral education. It turns out that within each of these discourses there is a mainstream interpretation which emphasises shame’s expendability or moral ugliness (and where shame is typically described as guilt’s ugly sister), but also a heterodox interpretation which seeks to retrieve and defend shame. (...) As the heterodox interpretation seems to offer a more realistic picture of shame’s role in moral education, the provenance of the mainstream interpretation merits scrutiny. I argue that social scientific studies of the concept of shame, based on its supposed phenomenology, incorporate biases in favour of excessive, rather than medial, forms of the emotion. I suggest ways forward for more balanced analyses of the nature, moral justification and educative role of shame. (shrink)
This article is an extension of my previous article, which describes pure knowing as the ability and criteria for making moral judgment.1 Due to apparent contradictions among Wang Yangming's statements, there are controversies over the evaluation and interpretation of Wang's idea of the relation between moral knowledge 2 and moral action. Generally, on the one hand, Wang admits that there are people who commit wrong actions even though they recognize that these actions are wrong. He claims not (...) only that sages possess pure knowing, but also that robbers feel ashamed to be called "robbers" through the working of pure knowing.3 On the other hand, he explicitly states that "There have never... (shrink)
There is a view that Ruists never put much emphasis on qing and even saw it in a negative light. This is perhaps a misunderstanding, especially in regard to pre-Qin Ruism. In the Guodian Xing zi ming chu, the passage "dao begins in qing" (dao shi yu qing) plays an important role in our understanding of the pre-Qin notion of qing. This article concentrates on the "theory of qing" in both pre-Qin Ruism and Daoism and attempts a philosophical interpretation of (...) "dao begins in qing," and in the process offers philosophical interpretations of a number of important notions. (shrink)
Defenders of moral perception have famously argued that seeing value is relevantly similar to seeing color. Some critics think, however, that the analogy between color-seeing and value-seeing breaks down in several crucial respects. Defenders of moral perception, these critics say, have not succeeded in providing examples of non-moral perception that are relevantly analogous to cases of moral perception. Therefore, it can be doubted whether there is such a thing as moral perception at all. I argue (...) that, although the analogy between color perception and moral perception does indeed break down in several crucial respects, that conclusion does not weaken the case of defenders of moral perception, because better analogies are available. If defenders of moral perception seek to draw support from an analogy, then seeing emotion will protect them better against criticisms than will seeing color. (shrink)