Moral Psychology

R. Jay Wallace

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234769
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


 Moral Psychology

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Moral psychology is the study of morality in its psychological dimensions. Its unity and interest as a subject derive from its connection to the larger subject of moral philosophy, conceived as the study of normative demands on action in general, and moral demands on action in particular. It is possible, to be sure, to study morality without paying any special attention to issues that might be called psychological. Traditionally, however, the normative questions at the centre of philosophical ethics have been understood to require a kind of treatment that is at least partly psychological. This is no doubt due to the fact that moral norms aim to govern action. When it succeeds relative to this aim, morality will of necessity leave psychological traces in the agents whose lives it governs — there will be distinctive patterns of motivation and emotional response that people are subject to who internalize and act on moral standards.

Keywords: moral psychology; morality; normative demands; philosophical ethics; moral norms; moral standards

Article.  14140 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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