PHIL 7636 The Emotions and Moral Perception
Fridays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
This course will combine considerations in moral psychology and meta-ethics. In particular, the course will ask:
1) What role, if any, do feelings and emotions play in moral perception (both with respect to our understanding of the goods at which we ought to aim our actions and the rightness or wrongness of the actions we undertake to realize those goods)?, and
2) What does the answer to the first question contribute to the debate between moral realism and anti-realism?
The approach to the course will be primarily, but not exclusively, phenomenological. The first question, then, can be understood as a question about the intentional structure of affective and emotional experiences in which we experience things as good or bad, in which, in other words, we achieve valuations.
The second question turns to more ontological and epistemological issues, although our approach will remain phenomenological. From a phenomenological point of view, then, we can understand this question as one concerning the objectivity, if any, of evaluative experiences. In the consideration of both questions, our attention will be devoted primarily to moral evaluations, moral goods, and moral values.
In considering these questions, we shall examine conceptions of the emotions and of the realism/anti-realism issue found in some subset of authors such as Aristotle, Edmund Husserl, Max Scheler, Jean-Paul Sartre, A. J. Ayer, C. L. Stevenson, Elizabeth Anscombe, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Solomon , Peter Goldie, Robert Roberts, Martha Nussbaum, Nancy Sherman, John McDowell, Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, David Wiggnins, Kevin Mulligan, Christine Tappolet, Gabriele Taylor, Jesse Prinz, David Brink, Michael Smith, Bernard Williams, J. L. Mackie, Russ Shafer-Landau, and Christine Korsgaard.