Chapter

Is It Irrational to Be Amoral?

Shaun Nichols

in Sentimental Rules

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195169348
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835041 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195169344.003.0003
 Is It Irrational to Be Amoral?

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Moral rationalism provides one prominent way of securing moral objectivism. If morality derives from reason, then morality might enjoy an objective basis. In this chapter, two rationalist claims are distinguished: a conceptual claim and an empirical claim. The conceptual claim is that it is a conceptual truth that moral requirements are rational requirements; the empirical claim is that human moral judgment is produced by rational cognitive mechanisms. This chapter argues that both claims are problematic. The conceptual claim is threatened by the conceptual possibility of a rational amoralist. The empirical claim is insulated from such worries but it is undermined by evidence that psychopaths apparently do have a seriously disturbed capacity for moral judgment.The most plausible explanation of this deficit does not fit with an Empirical Rationalist account.

Keywords: amoralism; autism; moral rationalism; psychopathy; Michael Smith

Chapter.  7765 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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