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Moral Reasoning and Emotion

In Karen Jones, Mark Timmons & Aaron Zimmerman (eds.), Routledge Handbook on Moral Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 139-156 (2018)

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  1. Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions.Matt King & Josh May (eds.) - 2022 - Oxford University Press.
    How exactly do mental disorders affect one’s agency? How might therapeutic interventions help patients regain or improve their autonomy? Do only some disorders excuse morally inappropriate behavior, such as theft or child neglect? Or is there nothing about having a disorder, as such, that affects whether we ought to praise or blame someone for their moral success or failure? Our volume gathers together empirically-informed philosophers who are well equipped to tackle such questions. Contributors specialize in free will, agency, and responsibility, (...)
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  • Regard for Reason in the Moral Mind.Joshua May - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    The burgeoning science of ethics has produced a trend toward pessimism. Ordinary moral thought and action, we’re told, are profoundly influenced by arbitrary factors and ultimately driven by unreasoned feelings. This book counters the current orthodoxy on its own terms by carefully engaging with the empirical literature. The resulting view, optimistic rationalism, shows the pervasive role played by reason, and ultimately defuses sweeping debunking arguments in ethics. The science does suggest that moral knowledge and virtue don’t come easily. However, despite (...)
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  • The Neuroscience of Moral Judgment: Empirical and Philosophical Developments.Joshua May, Clifford I. Workman, Julia Haas & Hyemin Han - 2022 - In Felipe De Brigard & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (eds.), Neuroscience and Philosophy. Cambridge, USA: MIT Press. pp. 17-47.
    We chart how neuroscience and philosophy have together advanced our understanding of moral judgment with implications for when it goes well or poorly. The field initially focused on brain areas associated with reason versus emotion in the moral evaluations of sacrificial dilemmas. But new threads of research have studied a wider range of moral evaluations and how they relate to models of brain development and learning. By weaving these threads together, we are developing a better understanding of the neurobiology of (...)
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  • Moral Rationalism on the Brain.Joshua May - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    I draw on neurobiological evidence to defend the rationalist thesis that moral judgments are essentially dependent on reasoning, not emotions (conceived as distinct from inference). The neuroscience reveals that moral cognition arises from domain-general capacities in the brain for inferring, in particular, the consequences of an agent’s action, the agent’s intent, and the rules or norms relevant to the context. Although these capacities entangle inference and affect, blurring the reason/emotion dichotomy doesn’t preferentially support sentimentalism. The argument requires careful consideration of (...)
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  • The Limits of Emotion in Moral Judgment.Joshua May - 2018 - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press. pp. 286-306.
    I argue that our best science supports the rationalist idea that, independent of reasoning, emotions aren’t integral to moral judgment. There’s 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 (...)
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  • Chimpanzee Normativity: Evidence and Objections.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-28.
    This paper considers the question of whether chimpanzees possess at least a primitive sense of normativity: i.e., some ability to internalize and enforce social norms—rules governing appropriate and inappropriate behaviour—within their social groups, and to make evaluations of others’ behaviour in light of such norms. A number of scientists and philosophers have argued that such a sense of normativity does exist in chimpanzees and in several other non-human primate and mammalian species. However, the dominant view in the scientific and philosophical (...)
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  • Embodied Cognition.A. Wilson Robert & Foglia Lucia - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Cognition is embodied when it is deeply dependent upon features of the physical body of an agent, that is, when aspects of the agent's body beyond the brain play a significant causal or physically constitutive role in cognitive processing. In general, dominant views in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science have considered the body as peripheral to understanding the nature of mind and cognition. Proponents of embodied cognitive science view this as a serious mistake. Sometimes the nature of the (...)
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