The limits of emotion in moral judgment



  • This chapter argues that our best science supports the rationalist idea that, independent of reasoning, emotions are not integral to moral judgment. There is ample evidence that ordinary moral cognition often involves conscious and unconscious reasoning about an action's outcomes and the agent's role in bringing them about. Emotions can aid in moral reasoning by, for example, drawing one's attention to such information. However, there is no compelling evidence for the decidedly sentimentalist claim that mere feelings are causally necessary or sufficient for making a moral judgment or for treating norms as distinctively moral. The chapter concludes that, even if moral cognition is largely driven by automatic intuitions, these should not be mistaken for emotions or their non-cognitive components. Non-cognitive elements in our psychology may be required for normal moral development and motivation but not necessarily for mature moral judgment.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13

  • 9780198797074
  • Start Page

  • 286
  • End Page

  • 306