Chapter

Psychopathy, Empathy, and Moral Motivation

A. E. Denham

in Iris Murdoch, Philosopher

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199289905
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728471 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289905.003.0014
Psychopathy, Empathy, and Moral Motivation

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This chapter addresses the meta-ethical and psychological implications of Murdoch’s epistemic internalism—her claim that moral responsiveness is a condition of reliable and accurate moral evaluations. Part 1 examines Murdoch’s view that moral judgments feature a quasi-experiential phenomenology analogous to that of certain perceptual ones. Focussing on the phenomenology of our perception-based judgments of certain aspectual properties (e.g., pictorial and musical ones) it argues that such judgments support both Murdoch’s analogy and the internalism she takes it to imply. In Part 2 this chapter considers Murdoch’s internalism as a psychological thesis, assessing it in view of several empirical studies of psychopathic subjects. It argues that the psychopath’s distinctive complex of cognitive and motivational deficits supports Murdoch’s conviction that moral judgment and moral motivation are interdependent. Just as Murdoch believed, many of our ordinary, non-pathological moral beliefs seem to be the natural progeny of our responsiveness to other persons, and so inherit the intrinsic power that others have to move us.

Keywords: moral motivation; internalism and externalism; moral epistemology; moral phenomenology; aspect perception; aspect properties; psychopathy; empathy; moral vision

Chapter.  15527 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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