Moral Psychology and Virtue

Nancy Sherman

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199545971
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Moral Psychology and Virtue

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This chapter draws upon ancient sources to develop a cognitivist account of emotions and indicate the sense in which they are candidates for the attribution of moral responsibility. Aristotle and the Stoics provide rich resources here, even if the Stoics themselves ultimately deny a place for ordinary emotions in the best moral life. In a selective engagement with the ancients, Kant aligns himself with the Stoic disparagement of the emotions while rejecting their cognitivist account. According to him, emotions are inclinations distinct from the exercise of practical reason. But in his later moral writings, Kant urges a place for emotions in the fine and virtuous character. The chapter begins by reviewing considered intuitions about the moral significance of emotions.

Keywords: emotions; moral responsibility; Aristotle; Stoics; Kant; cognitivism

Article.  13120 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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