Moral Psychology : A Long Standing Rationalist Tradition

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Abstract Moral psychology has a long-standing rationalist tradition focused on reasoning. More recent evidence emphasizes the role of emotions in models of moral development and behavior (Gilligan, 1993; Haidt, 2001). Yet, both reason and emotion likely play an important role in moral judgment. “Moral emotions” have been the focus of several recent empirical psychological studies. They differ from basic emotions in that they are intrinsically linked to the interests or welfare either of society as a whole or of persons other than the agent (Damasio, 1994; de Waal, 1996; Rozin et al., 1999; Haidt, 2002). Moreover, according to the dual-process theory (Kohlberg, 1969; Lierberman, 2002; Kahneman, 2003) a phenomenon can occur in two different ways, or as a result of two different processes. Often, the two processes consist of an implicit (automatic), unconscious process - which leads to intuitive emotional responses - and an explicit (controlled), conscious process - which leads to controlled cognitive responses. Moral emotions are readily evoked by the perception of moral violations; it has been suggested that, in contrast to laborious deductive reasoning, moral emotions enable rapid, automatic, and unconscious cognitive appraisals of interpersonal events (Haidt, 2001). These findings indicate the importance of affect, although they allow that reasoning can play a restricted but significant role in moral judgment. In this article, we review recent research findings in

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