Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York


*Moral Sprouts and Natural Teleologies: What 21st c. Moral Psychology Can Learn From Classical Chinese Philosophy.*  Abstract: Some contemporary psychologists think that all moralities are elaborations of evolutionarily old sprouts or foundations or modules in human nature that designed us to be moderately compassionate, to demand fairness at least for ourselves, to have strong in-group out-group biases, to be easily put off (disgusted by) by the practices of out-groups, minorities, etc.  These "moral foundations theorists" also say that there is nothing interesting to say about how these modules or foundations ought to be grown, modified, suppressed, etc. to produce good people.   There just are different ways of socializing people that give rise to competing moralities. Mencius the great classical Chinese philosopher was the first philosopher (I know about) who endorsed a sprout view of morality.  He proposed that there were four independent sprouts in human nature. But he thought there were rational ways to decide how best to create good individuals and good communities by developing these sprouts.  I bring moral foundations theory into conversation with Mencius in order to explore the puzzling relationship between moral psychology and normative ethics. 

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