moral psychology

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A major topic of philosophical inquiry, especially in Aristotle, and subsequently since the 17th and 18th centuries, when the ‘science of man’ began to probe into human motivation and emotion. For writers such as the French moralistes, or Hutcheson, Hume, Smith and Kant, a prime task was to delineate the variety of human reactions and motivations. Such inquiry would locate our propensity for moral thinking among other faculties, such as perception and reason, and other tendencies, such as empathy, sympathy or self-interest. The task continues especially in the light of a post-Darwinian understanding of ourselves. See also moral motivation, evolutionary psychology.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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