The emotional ties that bind us to concerns of harm and fairness

Deirdre KellyCarleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

The present research examines evidence for the sentimentalist claim that emotions are the foundation of moral judgment. It considers the psychopath, known for his deficient emotional capacities, as a case study to test intuitions about the emotion's role in moral judgment. Graham and colleagues (2009) examined moral judgment differences between psychopaths and non-psychopaths. Psychopaths showed lack of concern for moral fairness and harm. However, they showed as much concern as non-psychopaths for moral foundations of in-group loyalty, purity, and authority. I propose that a sentimentalist theory best explains these findings. It is a result of psychopaths' deficient guilt and sympathy that they are unable to develop appreciation for harm and fairness. The other foundations are tied to emotions that remain intact in psychopaths; for example, psychopaths have appropriate disgust reactions and purity is tied to disgust. These intact emotions result in their ability to express according moral judgment.

Files

The emotional ties that bind us to concerns of harm and fairness (1 KB)



Back to Table of Contents