The Moral Emotions

Jesse J. Prinz

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199235018
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 The Moral Emotions

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Emotions play many roles in human psychology. Fear alerts us to dangers, surprise registers novelty, and disgust helps us avoid potential sources of contamination. Many of these functions unite us with simpler creatures, and are, in that sense, among our more primitive or ancient psychological capacities. But emotions also play a role in the most sophisticated aspects of human mental life: they play a role in forming enduring social bonds to individuals and large groups, they give us pleasure in the arts, and they make fundamental contributions to human morality. It is this latter vocation that this article explores. Three questions are addressed: what roles do emotions play in morality? Which emotions play those roles? And are the emotions that play these roles distinctively moral?

Keywords: moral emotions; human psychology; contamination; psychological capacities; mental life; social bonds

Article.  9952 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy

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