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Abstract: The Supreme Court, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, is about to decide whether the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for child rape. Commentators are aghast, viewing this as a vengeful recrudescence of emotion clouding sober, rational criminal justice policy. To their minds, emotion is distracting. To ours, however, emotion is central to understand the death penalty. Descriptively, emotions help to explain many features of our death-penalty jurisprudence. Normatively, emotions are central to why we punish, and denying or squelching them risks prompting vigilantism and other unhealthy outlets for this normal human reaction. The emotional case for the death penalty for child rape may be even stronger than for adult murders, contrary to what newspaper editorials are suggesting. Finally, we suggest ways in which death-penalty abolitionists can stop pooh-poohing emotions' role and instead fight the death penalty on emotional terrain, particularly by harnessing the language of mercy and human fallibility
Abstract: This paper defends a cognitive theory of those emotional reactions which motivate and constrain moral judgment. On this theory, moral emotions result from mental faculties specialized for automatically producing feelings of approval or disapproval in response to mental representations of various social situations and actions. These faculties are modules in Fodor's sense, since they are informationally encapsulated, specialized, and contain innate information about social situations. The paper also tries to shed light on which moral modules there are, which of these modules we share with non-human primates, and on the (pre-)history and development of this modular system from pre-humans through gatherer-hunters and on to modern (i.e. arablist) humans. The theory is not, however, meant to explain all moral reasoning. It is plausible that a non-modular intelligence at least sometimes play a role in conscious moral thought. However, even non-modular moral reasoning is initiated and constrained by moral emotions having modular sources
Abstract: In order to understand the human capacity for altruism one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the relevance that recent findings in neu-roeconomics may have for the philosophical controversy between altruism and egoism, with par-ticular emphasis on the importance of emotion in understanding altruistic motivation. After briefly contextualising and sketching the philosophical controversy, we survey the results of three interesting studies that provide stimulating clues for the debate. We focus our attention particu-larly on the 2004 study in neuroeconomics by Dominique de Quervain, Urs Fischbacher and col-leagues, which contains an argument in favour of psychological egoism. On the basis of an emo-tional account of decision-making, we show that their analysis of the results – people seek fair-ness – may be questioned; we propose an alternative interpretation of the data – people seek re-venge. Unfortunately, our ‘emotion-directed’ interpretation renders this study far less relevant for the debate over the possibility of psychological altruism than previously expected
Abstract: The ancient Stoics notoriously argued, with thoroughness and force, that all ordinary “emotions” (passions, mental affections: in Greek, pãyh) are thoroughly bad states of mind, not to be indulged in by anyone, under any circumstances: anger, resentment, gloating; pity, sympathy, grief; delight, glee, pleasure; impassioned love (i.e. ¶rvw), agitated desires of any kind, fear; disappointment, regret, all sorts of sorrow; hatred, contempt, schadenfreude. Early on in the history of Stoicism, however, apparently in order to avoid the objection that human nature itself demands and indeed justifies—under certain circumstances at any rate—emotional attachments to or aversions from, and reactions to, some persons, things, and happenings, they introduced a theory of what came to be called eÈpãyeiai, good and acceptable ways of feeling or being affected. For short I will render these in English by “good feelings.”1 They divided these into three generic kinds, which they dubbed “joy” (xarã), “wish” (boÊlhsiw) and “caution” (eÈlãbeia). They ranged these alongside, and set them in sharp contrast to, three of the four highest genera into which they divided the normal human emotions: “pleasure” (≤donÆ), i.e., being pleased about something,2 “appetitive desire” (§piyuµ€a), and “fear” (fÒbow), respectively. The Stoics maintained that, though ordinary, familiar human emotions such as these last-named ones were always bad, the three sorts of “good feeling,” and their more specific variations (since these three are only the basic genera into which lots of other good ways of feeling will fall), were not merely free from the grounds of criticism on which ordinary emotions were rejected, and so were perfectly acceptable. The fully perfected human being (the “wise person”) would indeed regularly be subject to them
Abstract: The evaluations involved in shame are, intuitively at least, of many different sorts. One feels ashamed when seen by others doing something one would prefer doing alone (social shame). One is ashamed because of one’s ugly nose (shame about permanent traits). One feels ashamed of one’s dishonest behavior (moral shame), etc. The variety of evaluations in shame is striking; and it is even more so if one takes a cross-cultural perspective on this emotion. So the difficulty – the “unity problem” of shame- turns out to be the following: is there a common trait shared by all shame evaluations that will allow us to differentiate these evaluations from those that feature in other negative self-reflexive emotions like anger at oneself or self disappointment? Some progress is perhaps accomplished if we say that, in shame, a given trait or behavior is evaluated as degrading or as revealing one’s lack of worth. Still, even if we agree with this last claim, truth is that these answers are less illuminating than we might wish. A theory of shame should surely further elucidate the aspect of one’s identity relevant for shame, namely, the self of shame. In this connexion, philosophers have referred to “self-esteem,” “self-respect” or the “social self,” significantly disagreeing thus on which aspect of one’s identity is at stake in shame. After critically discussing the different solutions to the problem, we offer our own. Shame, we claim, consists in an awareness of a distinctive inability to discharge a commitment that goes with holding self-relevant values. This conception solves the unity problem while illuminating other aspects of this emotion.
Abstract: 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
Abstract: The motivational problem is the problem of understanding how we can have rational control over what we do. In the face of phenomena like weakness of the will, it is commonly thought that evaluation and reason can always remain intact even as we sever their connection with motivation; consequently, solving the motivational problem is thought to be a matter of ﬁguring out how to bridge this inevitable gap between evaluation and motivation. I argue that this is fundamentally mistaken and results in a conception of practical reason that is motivationally impotent. Instead, I argue, a proper understanding of evaluation and practical reason must include not only evaluative judgments but emotions as well. By analyzing the role of emotions in evaluation and the rational interconnections among emotions, desires, and evaluative judgments, I articulate a new conception of evaluation and motivation according to which there is a conceptual connection between them, albeit one that allows for the possibility of weakness of the will
Abstract: Deliberation about personal, non-moral values involves elements of both invention and discovery. Thus, we invent our values by freely choosing them, where such distinctively human freedom is essential to our defining and taking responsibility for the kinds of persons we are; nonetheless, we also discover our values insofar as we can deliberate about them rationally and arrive at non-arbitrary decisions about what has value in our lives. Yet these notions of invention and discovery seem inconsistent with each other, and the possibility of deliberation about value therefore seems paradoxical. My aim is to argue that this apparent paradox is no paradox at all. I offer an account of what it is to value something largely in terms of emotions and desires. By examining the rational interconnections among emotions and evaluative judgments, I argue for an account both of how judgments can shape our emotions, thereby shaping our values in a way that makes intelligible the possibility of inventing our values, and of how our emotions can simultaneously rationally constrain correct deliberation, thereby making intelligible the possibility of discovering our values. The result is a rejection of both cognitivist and non-cognitivist accounts of value and deliberation about value
Abstract: Ethics studies the evaluation of actions, agents and their mental states and characters from a distinctive viewpoint or employing a distinctive vocabulary. And epistemology examines the evaluation of actions (inquiries and assertions), agents (believers and inquirers), and their states (belief and attitudes) from a different viewpoint. Given this common concern with evaluation, we should surely expect there to be considerable similarities between the issues examined and the ideas employed in the two areas. However, when we examine most textbooks in ethics and epistemology, this expectation is not fulfilled. Of course, the vocabularies of evaluation are different: in ethics, we are concerned with issues of right and wrong, virtue and vice, moral obligation, and so on; and in epistemology, it is most commonly assumed that we are interested in whether states count as knowledge or as justified beliefs, with whether beliefs and strategies of belief formation are rational
Abstract: The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal ('NSWCCA') continues to endorse the principle that victim impact statements drafted by family members of homicide victims, while being received into sentencing proceedings, cannot influence the sentences of offenders. Family perspectives on the impact of the death of the primary victim are restricted out of the need to assess harm in terms of the immediate circumstances of the offence, maintaining respect for the equality of human life. Despite this limiting principle, the NSWCCA acknowledges that impact statements continue to be important, providing, as indicated by Sully J in R v FD; R v FD; R v JD (2006) 160 A Crim R 392 ('R v FD; R v FD; R v JD'), an 'emotional catharsis' for victims of crime. However, recent amendments to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) require that a court recognise the harm done to the victim and community. In the context of this amendment, the NSWCCA has suggested that the rule excluding family statements may now need to be revised to include the perspectives of family members as representing those of the community. This article explores this proposal in terms of the status of family statements in other jurisdictions where such statements are deemed relevant to sentence
Abstract: In Gonzales v. Carhart the Supreme Court invoked post-abortion regret to justify a ban on a particular abortion procedure. The Court was proudly folk-psychological, representing its observations about women's emotional experiences as "self-evident." That such observations could drive critical legal determinations was, apparently, even more self-evident, as it received no mention at all. Far from being sui generis, Carhart reflects a previously unidentified norm permeating constitutional jurisprudence: reliance on what this Article coins "emotional common sense." Emotional common sense is what one unreflectively thinks she knows about the emotions. A species of common sense, it seems obvious and universal to its holder-but this appearance is misleading. This Article articulates and evaluates the Court's reliance on emotional common sense in constitutional law. It demonstrates that emotional common sense sometimes imports into law inaccurate accounts of the world. Justices of every ideological orientation invoke it in a manner that comports with their desired ends. Emotional common sense colors interpretation of evidence, manifests in selective perspective-taking, and shapes jurisprudential choices. Common-sense evaluation of the emotions also necessarily embodies underlying beliefs and values; enforcing them on others under the guise of simple truth silently forces a false consensus. Emotional common sense has a limited place in constitutional law. It may be cautiously embraced where an emotional phenomenon is relatively basic and universal. In all other cases the embrace should be withheld. Evaluating isolated instances in which the Court has looked beyond emotional common sense, the Article shows that a superior path exists
Abstract: Sometimes emotions excuse. Fear and anger, for example, sometimes excuse under the headings of (respectively) duress and provocation. Although most legal systems draw the line at this point, the list of potentially excusatory emotions outside the law seems to be longer. One can readily imagine cases in which, for example, grief or despair could be cited as part of a case for relaxing or even eliminating our negative verdicts on those who performed admittedly unjustified wrongs. To be sure, the availability of such excuses depends on what wrong one is trying to excuse. No excuse is available in respect of all wrongs. Some wrongs, indeed, are inexcusable. This throws up the interesting question of what makes a particular emotion apt to excuse a particular wrong. Why is fear, for example, more apt to excuse more serious wrongs than, say, pride or shame? This question leads naturally to another. Why are some emotions, such as lust, greed, and envy, apparently not apt to furnish any excuses at all? Can one not be overcome by them? Can they not drive one to wrongdoing as readily as fear and grief? Or is that not the point?
Abstract: How does shame differ from guilt? Empirical psychology has recently offered distinct and seemingly incompatible answers to this question. This article brings together four prominent answers into a cohesive whole. These are that (a) shame differs from guilt in being a social emotion; (b) shame, in contrast to guilt, affects the whole self; (c) shame is linked with ideals, whereas guilt concerns prohibitions and (d) shame is oriented towards the self, guilt towards others. After presenting the relevant empirical evidence, we defend specific interpretations of each of these answers and argue that they are related to four different dimensions of the emotions. This not only allows us to overcome the conclusion that the above criteria are either unrelated or conflicting with one another, it also allows us to tell apart what is constitutive from what is typical of them.
Abstract: In The Grammar of Society, Bicchieri maintains that behavior in the Ultimatum game (and related economic games) depends on people’s allegiance to ‘social norms’. In this article, I follow Bicchieri in maintaining that an adequate account of people’s behavior in such games must make appeal to norms, including a norm of equal division; I depart from Bicchieri in maintaining that at least part of the population desires to follow such norms even when they do not expect others to follow them. This generates a puzzle, however: why do norms of equal division have such cultural resilience? One possibility is that our natural emotional propensity for envy makes norms of equal division emotionally appealing. An alternative (but complementary) possibility is that deviations from a norm of equal division would naturally be interpreted as threats to status, which would facilitate the moralization of such norms
Abstract: It is widely believed that empathy is a good thing, from a moral point of view. It is something we should cultivate because it makes us better people. Perhaps that’s true. But it is also sometimes suggested that empathy is somehow necessary for morality. That is the hypothesis I want to interrogate and challenge. Not only is there little evidence for the claim that empathy is necessary, there is also reason to think empathy can interfere with the ends of morality. A capacity for empathy might make us better people, but placing empathy at the center of our moral lives may be ill‐advised. That is not to say that morality shouldn’t centrally involve emotions. I think emotions are essential for moral judgment and moral motivation (Prinz, 2007). It’s just that empathetic emotions are not ideally suited for these jobs. Before embarking on this campaign against empathy, I want to say a little more about the target of the attack. What is empathy? And what would it mean to say empathy is necessary for morality? With respect to the first question, much has been written. Theories of empathy abound. Batson et al. (1995: 1042) define empathy as, “as an other‐oriented emotional response congruent with the perceived welfare of another person.” This is not the definition I will be using. Batson’s construct might be better characterized as “concern,” because of its focus on another person’s welfare. Indeed, in much of his research he talks about “empathetic concern.” Notice that this construct seems to be a combination of two separable things. Being concerned for someone is worrying about their welfare, which is something one can do even if one doesn’t feel what it would be like to be in their place. One can have concern for a plant, for example, and an insect, or even an artifact, like a beautiful building that has into disrepair. Empathy, seems to connote a kind of feeling that has to be at last possible for the object of empathy. If so, “empathetic concern” combines two different things—a find of feeling‐for an object and a feeling‐on‐behalf‐of an object. Much of the empirical literature, including the superb research that Batson has done, fails to isolate these components, and, as a result, some of the existing studies are confounded. They purport to show the value of empathy, but may really show the value of concern. My focus below will be on empathy, and I leave it as an open possibility that concern is highly important, if not necessary, for morality. Indeed, concern often seems to involve an element kind of moral anger, which I will argue is very important to morality. It is also important to distinguish empathy from sympathy. Suppose I feel outraged for someone who has been brainwashed into thinking she should follow a cult leader who is urging mass suicide. That would not necessarily qualify as empathy. As Darwall (1998: 261) points out, sympathy is a third‐person emotional response, whereas empathy involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes. But 1 Darwall’s definition is also somewhat problematic. He says, “Empathy consists in feeling what one imagines he feels, or perhaps should feel (fear, say), or in some imagined copy of these feelings, whether one comes thereby to be concerned … or not.” This definition has two features, which I would like to avoid. First, the appeal to imagination seems overly intellectual. Imagination sounds like a kind of mental act that requires effort on the part of the imaginer. As Darwell recognizes, empathy in its simplest form empathy is just emotional contagion: catching the emotion that another person feels (Hatfield et al., 1994; Hoffman, 2000). It seems inflated to call contagion an imaginative act. Also, I want to resist Darwall’s application of “empathy” to cases where one has a feeling that someone should feel, but does not feel. The problem is that this tends to blur the distinction between empathy and sympathy. Suppose I encounter a member of a cult who is delighted by the cult leader’s nefarious plans. The cult member should by afraid, but is not. If I feel fear on the cult member’s behalf, that is not putting myself in the cult member’s shoes. As I will use the term, empathy requires a kind of emotional mimicry. I do not wish to imply that empathy is always an automatic process, in the way that emotional contagion is. Sometimes imagination is requires, and sometimes we experience emotions that we think someone would be experiencing, even if we have not seen direct evidence that the emotion is, in fact, being experienced. For example, one might feel empathetic hope for a marathon runner who is a few steps behind the runner is first place, or anxiety for the first place runner, and the second place runner catches up. We can experience these feelings even if the runners’ facial expressions reveal little more than muscular contortions associated with concentration and physical exertion. A situation can reveal a feeling. The core idea, as I will use the term, is that empathy is a kind of vicarious emotion: it’s feeling what one takes another person to be feeling. And the “taking” here can be a matter of automatic contagion or the result of a complicated exercise of the imagination. I don’t think there is anything anachronistic about this notion of empathy. I think it has a long tradition in moral philosophy, even though the term “empathy” is only 100 years old. The British moralists, including David Hume and Adam Smith, used “sympathy” in way that is similar to the way I want to use “empathy.” Here is Smith (1759: II.i): “Whatever is the passion which arises from any object in the person principally concerned, an analogous emotion springs up, at the thought of his situation, in the breast of every attentive spectator.” My question, in the pages that follow, is whether empathy so‐defined is necessary for morality. I should note again, in advance, that the empirical literature does not always distinguish between the constructs I have been discussing, but I do think that all the studies I discuss below can, by inference at least, shed some light on empathy as defined here. The suggestion that empathy is necessary for morality can be interpreted in at least three different ways. One might hold the view that empathy is necessary for making moral judgment. One might think empathy is necessary for moral development. And one might think empathy is necessary for motivating moral conduct. I think each of these conjectures is false. Empathy is not necessary for any of these things. We can have moral systems without empathy. Of course, it doesn’t follow directly that empathy should be eliminated from morality. One might think the modal question—Can there be morality without empathy?—and the related....