Some philosophers have argued that moralagency is characteristic of humans alone and that its absence from other animals justifies granting higher moral status to humans. However, human beings do not have a monopoly on moralagency, which admits of varying degrees and does not require mastery of moral principles. The view that all and only humans possess moralagency indicates our underestimation of the mental lives of other animals. Since many other (...) animals are moral agents (to varying degrees), they are also subject to (limited) moral obligations, examples of which are provided in this paper. But, while moralagency is sufficient for significant moral status, it is by no means necessary. (shrink)
This essay argues that while the notion of collective responsibiility is incoherent if it is taken to be an application of the Kantian model of moral responsibility to groups, it is coherent -- and important -- if formulated in terms of the moral reactions that we can have to groups that cause harm in the world. I formulate collective responsibility as such and in doing so refocus attention from intentionality to the production of harm.
Empathy has become a common point of debate in moral psychology. Recent developments in psychiatry, neurosciences and social psychology have led to the revival of sentimentalism, and the ‘empathy thesis’ has suggested that affective empathy, in particular, is a necessary criterion of moralagency. The case of psychopaths – individuals incapable of affective empathy and moralagency, yet capable of rationality – has been utilised in support of this case. Critics, however, have been vocal. They (...) have asserted that the case of autism proves the empathy thesis wrong; that psychopathy centres on rational rather than empathic limitations; that empathy is not relevant to many common normative behaviours; and that rationality is required when empathy fails. The present paper analyses these four criticisms. It will be claimed that they each face severe difficulties, and that moralagency ought to be approached via a multi-tier model, with affective empathy as a baseline. (shrink)
The debate concerning corporate moralagency is normally conducted through philosophical arguments in articles which argue from only one point of view. This paper summarises both the arguments for and against corporate moralagency and concludes from this that the arguments in favour have more weight. The paper also addresses the way in which the law in the U.K. and the U.S.A. currently views this issue and shows how it is supportive of the concept of corporate (...)moralagency. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the debate for business ethics in general, and stakeholder theory and virtue ethics in particular. (shrink)
The paper reconstructs in economic terms Friedman's theorem that the only social responsibility of firms is to increase their profits while staying within legal and ethical rules. A model of three levels of moral conduct is attributed to the firm: (1) self-interested engagement in the market process itself, which reflects according to classical and neoclassical economics an ethical ideal; (2) the obeying of the "rules of the game," largely legal ones; and (3) the creation of ethical capital, which allows (...)moral conduct to enter the market process beyond the rules of the game. Points (1) and (2) position the Friedman theorem in economic terms while point (3) develops an economic revision of the theorem, which was not seen by Friedman. Implications are spelled out for an instrumental stakeholder theory of the firm. (shrink)
This paper argues that self-consciousness and moralagency depend crucially on both embodied and social aspects of human existence, and that the capacity for practical wisdom, phronesis, is central to moral personhood. The nature of practical wisdom is elucidated by drawing on rival analyses of expertise. Although ethical expertise and practical wisdom differ importantly, they are alike in that we can acquire them only in interaction with other persons and through habituation. The analysis of moral (...) class='Hi'>agency and practical wisdom is framed by Dennett's proposal that moral personhood requires satisfaction of six conditions, including self-consciousness. (shrink)
"The main conclusion of this essay is that it is plausible to conclude that corporations are capable of exhibiting intentionality, and as a result that they may be properly understood as moral agents" (p. 281).
Recent work in behavioral economics and psychology provides valuable resources for religious ethicists. This book discussion examines contributions by Cass Sunstein, Daniel Kahneman, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton, Uri Gneezy and John A. List, and Douglas Hough. This literature raises important questions about ethical decision-making, moralagency and responsibility, and the ethics of life in global capitalism. It also opens up promising areas for interdisciplinary dialogue between economics and religious studies. This book discussion concludes that religious ethicists have (...) much to contribute to the conversations about moral anthropology that are now being held in behavioral economic research, and to the broader political economic debates in which this research participates. (shrink)
Collective moral agents can cause their own moral incapacity. If an agent is morally incapacitated, then the agent is exempted from responsibility. Due to self-induced moral incapacity, corporate responsibility gaps resurface. To solve this problem, I first set out and defend a minimalist account of moral competence for group agents. After setting out how a collective agent can cause its own moral incapacity, I argue that self-induced temporary exempting conditions do not free an agent from (...) diachronic responsibility once the agent regains its moral faculties. For collective agents, any exempting condition is potentially temporary due to the ‘malleability’ of their constitution. Therefore, in cases of self-induced moral incapacity and subsequent wrongdoing, unlike individuals, every collective agent can be (made) morally responsible for its actions even though it did not qualify as a moral agent at the time of wrongdoing. Hence, this is no reason for skepticism concerning corporate responsibility. (shrink)
Contemporary literature includes a wide variety of definitions of empathy. At the same time, the revival of sentimentalism has proposed that empathy serves as a necessary criterion of moralagency. The paper explores four common definitions in order to map out which of them best serves such agency. Historical figures are used as the backdrop against which contemporary literature is analysed. David Hume’s philosophy is linked to contemporary notions of affective and cognitive empathy, Adam Smith’s philosophy to (...) projective empathy, and Max Scheler’s account to embodied empathy. Whereas cognitive and projective empathy suffer from detachment and atomism, thereby providing poor support for the type of other-directedness and openness entailed by moralagency, embodied and affective empathy intrinsically facilitate these factors, and hence are viewed as fruitful candidates. However, the theory of affective empathy struggles to explain why the experience of empathy includes more than pure affective mimicry, whilst embodied empathy fails to take into account forms of empathy that do not include contextual, narrative information. In order to navigate through these difficulties, Edith Stein’s take on non-primordial experience is used as a base upon which a definition of affective empathy, inclusive of an embodied dimension, and founded on a movement between resonation and response, is sketched. It is argued that, of the four candidates, this new definition best facilitates moralagency. (shrink)
It is often contended that certain enhancement technologies are acceptable, because they simply update traditional ways of pursuing the improvement of human capacities. This is not true with reference to moral bioenhancement, because of the radical difference between traditional and biotechnological ways of producing moral progress. These latter risk having serious negative effects on our moralagency, by causing a substantial loss of freedom and capacity of authentic moral behaviour, by affecting our moral identity (...) and by imposing a standard conception of moral personality. (shrink)
It is a common view in modern scholarship on Buddhist ethics, that attachment to the self constitutes a hindrance to ethics, whereas rejecting this type of attachment is a necessary condition for acting morally. The present article argues that in Vasubandhu's theory of agency, as formulated in the Abhidharmakośabhāṣya (Treasury of Metaphysics with Self-Commentary), a cognitive and psychological identification with a conventional, persisting self is a requisite for exercising moralagency. As such, this identification is essential for (...) embracing the ethics of Buddhism and its way of life. The article delineates the method that Vasubandhu employs to account for the notion of a selfless moral agent, with particular emphasis on his strategies for dealing with one central aspect of agency, self-interested concern for the future. (shrink)
This paper discusses Confucian notions of moral autonomy and moralagency that do not follow strict and ideal notions of autonomy that one can find in many Western theories of moral philosophy. In Kantian deontology, for example, one's autonomy, specifically one's rational will to follow universal moral rules, is a necessary condition of moralagency and moral responsibility. In Confucian moral philosophy, however, this type of strict moral autonomy is rarely (...) observed. A Confucian moral agent is often depicted as a partially heteronomous individual who often accepts and follows others' moral authority and considers external contingencies in her moral deliberations. Yet active moralagency is maintained in Confucian philosophy. In this paper, I will explain and analyze a partially heteronomous but active form of moralagency in Confucian moral philosophy. First, I will survey different notions of moral autonomy and explore philosophical theories of partial autonomy and heteronomy. Second, I will discuss, on the basis of interactive, responsive, and situated notions of the self, how Confucian moralagency can be explained without strict standards of autonomy. In Confucianism, morality or virtuosity reflects the relational, responsive, and situated nature of human being that resonates with other human beings and their environmental contingencies. Mencius, for example, acknowledges and discusses interactive or relational nature of moral action and the dependency of the moral self on external conditions of life without giving up active moral effort and full moral responsibility. Third, based on my analysis of moral autonomy and responsibility in early Confucian philosophy, I will argue that Confucian moral philosophy provides a unique way of understanding moralagency, not through self-enclosed independency but through relational and interactive interdependency of communal agency. (shrink)
We review both the aspects of values-related research that complicate ideations of what we ought to do, as well as the psychological impediments to forming beliefs about the way things are. We find that more traditional moral theories are without solid empirical footing in the psychology of human values. Consequently, we revise the notion of values to align with their socially symbolic utility in self-affirmation and reformulate our understandings of moralagency to allow for the practicalities of (...) context, circumstance, and connectedness. We close by discussing the research and practical implications for these revisions. (shrink)
Nomy Arpaly rejects the model of rationality used by most ethicists and action theorists. Both observation and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and act irrationally with deliberation. By questioning the notion that our own minds are comprehensible to us--and therefore questioning much of the current work of action theorists and ethicists--Arpaly attempts to develop a more realistic conception of moralagency.
A familiar feature of moral life is the distinctive anxiety that we feel in the face of a moral dilemma or moral conflict. Situations like these require us to take stands on controversial issues. But because we are unsure that we will make the correct decision, anxiety ensues. Despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, surprisingly little work has been done either to characterize this “ moral anxiety” or to explain the role that it plays in our (...)moral lives. This paper aims to address this deficiency by developing an empirically informed account of what moral anxiety is and what it does. (shrink)
This paper discusses the philosophical issues pertaining to Kantian moralagency and artificial intelligence. Here, our objective is to offer a comprehensive analysis of Kantian ethics to elucidate the non-feasibility of Kantian machines. Meanwhile, the possibility of Kantian machines seems to contend with the genuine human Kantian agency. We argue that in machine morality, ‘duty’ should be performed with ‘freedom of will’ and ‘happiness’ because Kant narrated the human tendency of evaluating our ‘natural necessity’ through ‘happiness’ as (...) the end. Lastly, we argue that the Kantian ‘freedom of will’ and ‘faculty of choice’ do not belong to any deterministic model of ‘agency’ as these are sacrosanct systems. The conclusion narrates the non-feasibility of Kantian AI agents from the genuine Kantian ethical outset, offering a utility-based Kantian ethical performer instead. (shrink)
Some commentators have condemned Kant’s moral project from a feminist perspective based on Kant’s apparently dim view of women as being innately morally deﬁcient. Here I will argue that although his remarks concerning women are unsettling at ﬁrst glance, a more detailed and closer examination shows that Kant’s view of women is actually far more complex and less unsettling than that attributed to him by various feminist critics. My argument, then, undercuts the justiﬁcation for the severe feminist critique of (...) Kant’s moral project. (shrink)
Living related organ transplantation is morally problematic for two reasons. First, it requires surgeons to perform nontherapeutic, even dangerous procedures on healthy donors—and in the case of children, without their consent. Second, the transplant donor and recipient are often intimately related to each other, as parent and child, or as siblings. These relationships challenge our conventional models of medical decisionmaking. Is there anything morally problematic about a parent allowing the interests of one child to be risked for the sake of (...) another? What exactly are the interests of the prospective child donor whose sibling will die without an organ? Is the choice of a parent to take risks for the sake of her child truly free, or is the specter of coercion necessarily raised? (shrink)
Recent empirical research results in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences on the “adaptive unconscious” show that conscious control and deliberative awareness are not all-pervasive aspects of our everyday dealings with one another. Moral philosophers and other scientists have used these insights to put our moralagency to the test. The results of these tests are intriguing: apparently we are not always the moral agents we take ourselves to be. This paper argues in favor of a refinement (...) of our common perception of moralagency that can accommodate these results; however, it also argues against the suggestion that this refined concept is the result of a radical new understanding of our everyday moral practices. (shrink)
Ordinary moral practice suggests that our beliefs, themselves, can wrong. But when one moral subject wrongs another, it must be something that the first subject, herself, does or brings about which constitutes the wronging: wronging involves exercising moralagency. So, if we can wrong others simply by believing, then believing involves an exercise or expression of moralagency. Unfortunately, it is not at all obvious how our beliefs could manifest our moralagency. (...) After all, we are not capable of believing at will, and belief generally seems to be nonvoluntary. Indeed, believing is often nondeliberative, automatic, and reflexive. Belief is a kind of spontaneous and unchosen cognitive response to one’s circumstances; it is the doxastic output of cognitive processing that is often wholly unreflective and subconscious. This paper develops and defends a two-part explanation of how beliefs that are nonvoluntary, automatic, and reflexive can nevertheless manifest our moralagency in a way that can help vindicate the intuitively attractive idea that our beliefs, themselves, can wrong. (shrink)
Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moralagency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is (...) empathy characterized in the literature, and how crucial is empathy, so described, to moral understanding and agency? I argue that an examination of moral thinking in high-functioning autistic people supports a Kantian rather than a Humean account of moralagency. (shrink)
For centuries in the UK and elsewhere, charities have been widely regarded as admirable and virtuous organisations. Business corporations, by contrast, have been characterised in the popular imagination as entities that lack a capacity for moral judgement. Drawing on the philosophical literature on the moralagency of organisations, we examine how the law shapes the ability of charities and business corporations headquartered in England to exercise moralagency. Paradoxically, we find that charities are legally constrained (...) in exercising moralagency in ways in which business corporations are not. Implications for charities and business corporations are then explored. (shrink)
There are various philosophical approaches and theories describing the intimate relation people have to artifacts. In this paper, I explore the relation between two such theories, namely distributed cognition and distributed morality theory. I point out a number of similarities and differences in these views regarding the ontological status they attribute to artifacts and the larger systems they are part of. Having evaluated and compared these views, I continue by focussing on the way cognitive artifacts are used in moral (...) practice. I specifically conceptualise how such artifacts (a) scaffold and extend moral reasoning and decision-making processes, (b) have a certain moral status which is contingent on their cognitive status, and (c) whether responsibility can be attributed to distributed systems. This paper is primarily written for those interested in the intersection of cognitive and moral theory as it relates to artifacts, but also for those independently interested in philosophical debates in extended and distributed cognition and ethics of (cognitive) technology. (shrink)
Liberal political philosophy presupposes a moral theory according to which the ability to assess and choose conceptions of the good from a universal and impartial moral standpoint is central to the individual's moral identity. This viewpoint is standardly understood by liberals as that of a rational human agent. Such an agent is able to reflect on her ends and pursuits, including those she strongly identifies with, and to understand and take into account the basic interests of others. (...) From the perspective of liberalism as a political morality, the most important of these interests is the interest in maximum, equal liberty for each individual, and thus the most important moral principles are the principles of justice that protect individuals' rights to life and liberty. According to the communitarian critics of liberalism, however, the liberal picture of moralagency is unrealistically abstract. Communitarians object that moral agents in the real world neither choose their conceptions of the good nor occupy a universalistically impartial moral standpoint. Rather, their conceptions of the good are determined chiefly by the communities in which they find themselves, and these conceptions are largely “constitutive” of their particular moral identities. Moralagency is thus “situated” and “particularistic,” and an impartial reflection on the conception of the good that constitutes it is undesirable, if not impossible. Further, communitarians contend, the good is “prior” to the right in the sense that moral norms are derived from, and justified in terms of, the good. An adequate moral and political theory must reflect these facts about moralagency and moral norms. (shrink)
Can computer systems ever be considered moral agents? This paper considers two factors that are explored in the recent philosophical literature. First, there are the important domains in which computers are allowed to act, made possible by their greater functional capacities. Second, there is the claim that these functional capacities appear to embody relevant human abilities, such as autonomy and responsibility. I argue that neither the first (Domain-Function) factor nor the second (Simulacrum) factor gets at the central issue in (...) the case for computer moralagency: whether they can have the kinds of intentional states that cause their decisions and actions. I give an account that builds on traditional action theory and allows us to conceive of computers as genuine moral agents in virtue of their own causally efficacious intentional states. These states can cause harm or benefit to moral patients, but do not depend on computer consciousness or intelligence. (shrink)
This paper draws upon a research study of accountants and HR specialists. The study eschewed hypothetical scenarios and focused upon those situations and scenarios that the interviewees defined as causing them ethical concerns. There are two distinct but related issues arising from the paper. The first is that the singular categorisations of moral reasoning attributed to individuals when faced with hypothetical scenarios by many who write on the issue of moral reasoning, did not correspond to the fluidity in (...)moral choices faced by the interviewees as they experienced their unfolding moral dilemmas. The second issue relates to the unwillingness of the interviewees to give voice to their concerns, not only externally, but also within their employing organisations. The tensions within the two cases featured were held in check only by the diminution of the autonomy of the two principal actors. As a consequence, the exercise of moralagency was denied. (shrink)
The subject of this article is moralagency in nursing, studied by the use of an applied philosophical method. It draws upon nurses’ accounts of how they see intrinsic value in their work and believe that they make a difference to patients in terms that leave their patients feeling better. The analysis is based on the philosophy of Iris Murdoch to reveal how nurses’ accounts demonstrated that they hold a view of themselves and their professional practice that is (...) intrinsically linked to, and dependent upon, their capacity to see good in the work they do. (shrink)
Christian List and Philip Pettit have recently developed a model of group agency on which an autonomous group agent can be formed, by deductive inference, from the beliefs and preferences of the individual group members. In this paper I raise doubts as to whether this type of group agent is a moral agent. The sentimentalist approach to moral responsibility sees a constitutive role for moral emotions, such as blame, guilt, and indignation, in our practices of attributing (...)moral responsibility. These moral emotions are important for the alignment of moral understandings, and for valuing other members of the moral community. I argue that while the intentional objects of beliefs and preferences are propositions, the intentional objects of moral emotions are other agents. Because agents are not subject to rules of inference, we cannot generate group agent emotions—such as guilt—in the same way as we can generate group agent beliefs and preferences. And because the group agents lack moral emotions, we have reason to resist treating them as moral agents. (shrink)
This article identifies limitations in traditional approaches to engineering ethics pedagogy, reflected in an overreliance on disaster case studies. Researchers in the field have pointed out that these approaches tend to occlude ethically significant aspects of day-to-day engineering practice and thus reductively individualize and decontextualize ethical decision-making. Some have proposed, as a remedy for these defects, the use of research and theory from Science and Technology Studies to enrich our understanding of the ways in which technology and engineering practice are (...) intricated in social and institutional contexts. While endorsing this approach, this article also argues that STS scholarship may not sufficiently address the kinds of questions about normativity and agency that are essential to engineering ethics. It proposes making use of the growing body of research in a field called “postphenomenology,” an approach that combines STS research with the traditional phenomenological concern with the standpoint of lived-experience. Postphenomenology offers a method of inquiry that combines STS’s investigation into social and institutional dimensions of technology with phenomenological reflection on our lived experience of embodied engagement with technical objects and sociotechnical systems, particularly the ways in which these involvements affect our moral perception and agency. The aim in using this approach in engineering ethics is thus to illuminate moral dimensions of everyday professional life of which practitioners may not typically be aware. The article concludes with some concrete curricular interventions for engineering ethics classrooms. (shrink)
This section aims to summarize and conclude Part I in the form of a taxonomy of legitimate and illegitimate corporate moral responsibility attributions. I believe we can categorise four types of corporate moral responsibility attributions two of which are legitimate and two which are illegitimate with regard to our concept of moralagency and our moral intuition of fairness.
Communitarians reject the impartial and universal viewpoint of liberal morality in favor of the "situated" viewpoint of the agent's community, and elevate political community into the moral community. I show that the preeminence of political community in communitarian morality is incompatible with concern for people's lives in the partial communities of family, friends, or others. Ironically, it is also incompatible with the communitarian thesis about the situated nature of moralagency. Political community is preeminent in communitarianism because (...) of its unargued-for assumption that a good society is a morally unified society. I further argue that the ability to take the impartial standpoint is essential to the ability to make particular commitments that have an intrinsic human importance. (shrink)
Two clusters of essays in this issue of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy provide a critical gaze through which to explore central moral, phenomenological, ontological, and political concerns regarding human moralagency and personal responsibility. The first cluster challenges common assumptions in bioethics regarding the voluntariness of human actions. The second set turns the debate towards morally responsible choice within the requirements of distributive justice. The force of their collective analysis leaves us with a well-founded basis (...) critically to approach any account of bioethics or health policy that is insufficiently attentive to the central challenges of human freedom and responsible free choice. (shrink)
Kant's conception of moralagency is often charged with attributing no role to feelings. I suggest that respect is the effective force driving moral action. I then argue that four additional types of rational feelings are necessary conditions of moralagency: The affective inner life of moral agents deliberating how to act and reflecting on their deeds is rich and complex . To act morally we must turn our affective moral perception towards the (...) ends of moral action: the welfare of others ; and our own moral being . Feelings shape our particular moral acts . I tentatively suggest that the diversity of moral feelings might be as great as the range of our duties. (shrink)
Recent advances in moral psychology and applications of virtue science have created promising opportunities to refine theories of media practice and ethical principles. This article sets forth the theoretical foundation for a model of virtuous action among media exemplars that is multidimensional, inductive, and informed by these developments. The model draws on a range of psycho-social assessment tools to explore five key dimensions of virtuous behavior: story of the self, personality, integration of morality into the self, moral ecology, (...) and moral skills and knowledge. The model's structure is designed to strengthen the empirical basis used to make normative and predictive claims about media practice. (shrink)
About the extent of moralagency in the animal kingdom, one view is that only humans are moral agents. Holding a different view, I argue that moralagency depends on the capacity for other-regard and the capacity to be attuned to significance—such that things matter to one. I derive a criterion where a creature is a moral agent if she performs an action that promotes others’ significant interests and brings great costs to herself where (...) she is aware of these significant interests and imposed costs. Failure to confirm that she has this awareness is a weakness of examples of moralagency in animals that writers provide, since she may be unaware of the significance of what she is doing. Since species of non-ape Primates and aquatic mammals satisfy the evidential criterion, moralagency is likely prevalent throughout much of Mammalia. I consider possible objections from Kant, Singer, and Korsgaard. (shrink)
Constitutivists believe that we can derive universally and unconditionally authoritative norms from the conditions of agency. Thus if c is a condition of agency, then you ought to live in conformity with c no matter what your particular ends, projects, or station. Much has been said about the validity of the inference, but that’s not my topic here. I want to assume it is valid and talk about what I take to be the highest ambition of constitutivism: the (...) prospect of grounding moral requirements in the conditions of agency. If this can be done, then we can show that everyone is bound by the demands of morality, and we can do so without the customary entanglements—queer normative entities, an implausibly powerful moral sense, or divine lawgivers. (shrink)
I analyze a well-known and moving passage from John Steinbeck''s novelThe Grapes of Wrath. This passage provides an excellent illustration of one of the central questions about corporate moralagency: Is corporate moralagency anything over and above the agency of individual human beings? The passage in question is a debate about whether or not the actions of a particular company are anything over and above the actions of individual human beings.
Some have argued that the UN or the Security Council can exercise agency on behalf of IS, but in view of the "underinstitutionalization" of IS in the UN, groups of states may authorize themselves to act on the behalf of IS as "coalitions of the willing.".
The “ultimate objective” of this book, says David Schmidtz, “is to examine the degree to which being moral is co-extensive with being rational”. For Schmidtz, an “end” gives us a reason for action provided that its pursuit is not undercut by some other end. Morality has a two-part structure. A person’s goal is “moral” if “pursuing it helps [her] to develop in a reflectively rational way,” provided its pursuit does not violate “interpersonal moral constraints”. Interpersonal constraints are (...) imposed by “collectively rational” social institutions, institutions that “make people in general better off by nonexploitative means”. Schmidtz’s view is a form of “actualism.” Our reasons are given by our actual goals, subject to the qualification mentioned above, and moral constraints are given by actually existing collectively rational institutions. Schmidtz concedes that this framework cannot guarantee that it is rational for every agent to be moral, and he concedes that his moral theory might be incomplete. Nevertheless, he argues, “morality and rationality make room for each other in a variety of ways”. (shrink)
This paper proposes a methodological redirection of the philosophical debate on artificial moralagency in view of increasingly pressing practical needs due to technological development. This “normative approach” suggests abandoning theoretical discussions about what conditions may hold for moralagency and to what extent these may be met by artificial entities such as AI systems and robots. Instead, the debate should focus on how and to what extent such entities should be included in human practices normally (...) assuming moralagency and responsibility of participants. The proposal is backed up by an analysis of the AMA debate, which is found to be overly caught in the opposition between so-called standard and functionalist conceptions of moralagency, conceptually confused and practically inert. Additionally, we outline some main themes of research in need of attention in light of the suggested normative approach to AMA. (shrink)
Metaethics has recently been confronted by evidence from cognitive neuroscience that tacit emotional processes play an essential causal role in moral judgement. Most neuroscientists, and some metaethicists, take this evidence to vindicate a version of metaethical sentimentalism. In this paper we argue that the ‘dual process’ model of cognition that frames the discussion within and without philosophy does not do justice to an important constraint on any theory of deliberation and judgement. Namely, decision-making is the exercise of a capacity (...) for agency. Agency, in turn, requires a capacity to conceive of oneself as temporally extended: to inhabit, in both memory and imagination, an autobiographical past and future. To plan, to commit to plans, and to act in accordance with previous plans requires a diachronic self, able to transcend the present moment. While this fact about agency is central to much of moral philosophy (e.g. in discussions of autonomy and moral responsibility) it is opaque to the dual process framework and those meta-ethical accounts which situate themselves within this model of cognition. We show how this is the case and argue for an empirically adequate account of moral judgement which gives sufficient role to memory and imagination as cognitive prerequisites of agency. We reconsider the empirical evidence, provide an alternative, agentive, interpretation of key findings, and evaluate the consequences for metaethics. (shrink)