Ethical theory should have no more jurisdiction in moral psychology than, let us say, the philosophy of personal identity does in current conceptions in the psychology of selfhood, than epistemology does in contemporary psychological models of learning, or the philosophy of the emotions in the psychology of the emotions - intellectual enterprises that proceed in the main in a state of benightedness to each other's existence. I would like this essay's challenge to Lapsley and Narváez's declaration that the relation between ethical theory and moral psychology is moribund to be read as a case study that suggests a broader conclusion: open dialogue between any branch of the social sciences and philosophy should be not be dismissed as a liability but cherished as an asset.
Moral philosophy' includes ethical theory and a part of philosophical anthropology called moral psychology. Ethical theory examines the right. Moral psychology inquires into the mental states in which people do right. Mencius' moral philosophy does not have the flaw of overlooking this distinction.
It may be said that in their models of moral psychology, Kohlberg and Rest converge to a remarkable degree, but they do so while diverging in significant ways on how to interpret those models. Kohlberg's model is staunchly cognitively determinative whereas in Rest's model, motivational factors beyond moral rationality but yet to be scientifically identified are also substantially involved in the production of moral behavior. For Kohlberg, despite his nod to general motivational factors such as `acceptance, competence, self-esteem, or self-realization', reasons are also motives, and the primary ones at that.
L. A. SELBY-BIGGE SUGGESTS that there is a significant difference between the moral psychology of Hume's Treatise and that of his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals. In particular, he claims that the psychology of sympathy, which plays such a central role in the second and third books of the Treatise, "is almost entirely ignored in the Enquiry."1 he then notes, "How it is possible to find room for sympathy in so atomistic or individualistic a psychology as Hume's, is one of the most interesting questions which are raised by his system."2
Some may wonder why we focus on these issues and ask where does moral psychology come in? Our concern is that many researchers in cognitive and evolutionary psychology seem to have a particular take on morality that may be at odds with how these matters are conceptualized in the developmental and educational literatures.
Moral psychology can of course be experimentally based, as it is in the contemporary disciplines of developmental and social and cognitive psychology. But it can also proceed from the armchair, as it were, resting its claims on the observations and intuitions of the theorist - a basis of evidence that is tested out by its agreement or disagreement with the observations and intuitions of his readers. (This characterization may make philosophical moral psychology sound more disreputable an enterprise than it is, but one should bear in mind that its past practitioners have included Aristotle, Spinoza, Hume, Nietzsche, and Freud.)
The paradigm here might be Josh Greene's work in moral psychology, in which he and his colleagues have studied the fMRI images of the brains of people thinking through so-called trolley cases, in which people are asked what they think the right thing is to do when a trolley, whose driver is unconscious, is bearing down on a group of people on a track. In a typical trolley case, you are offered the option of diverting the trolley from a track where it will kill six people to another track where it will kill only one. In the past, philosophers have used these scenarios to ask questions about how we make moral choices.
Greene claims that deontology is "defined by its emphasis on moral rules, most often articulated in terms of rights and duties" (p. 37, emphasis in the orig- inal). This is contrasted with consequentialism, which views moral actions in light of the con- sequences of those actions alone (think prag- matism). The differences between these two views have had a long history in philosophy and moral psychology.
We have explored Scanlon's rationalistic moral psychology and his theory about the nature of desire and the relation between desire and reasons. Scanlon opposes his views to Humean psychology and to Humean subjectivism about reasons. As we have seen, his views are rationalistic in several respects. First, he argues that beliefs about reasons can move us to action without any additional motivating element.
Kohlberg's theory provides the springboard for discussions of other contributions to moral psychology, including prosocial reasoning and behaviour, empathy and moral emotion, moral traits and moral personality and the moral self. Lapsley's discussion of these topics follows the logical order of questions left unanswered by each field of inquiry he summarises. For example, Kohlberg's research on moral reasoning left questions about moral (prosocial) behaviour that were taken up by subsequent researchers, such as Bill Damon.
There is reason to think that moral psychology is profoundly shaped by innate biases. But the innate biases plausibly come in the form of affective mechanisms rather than propositional information. The human mind comes loaded with a set of affective systems which seem to shape cognitive structures in ways that are neither domain general nor specific to a particular domain.
No where is this more apparent than in the field of moral psychology. Using babies, psychopaths, chimpanzees, fMRI scanners, web surveys, agent-based modeling, and ultimatum games, moral psychology has become a major convergence zone for research in the behavioral sciences.
Doris et al. describe moral psychology as "research at the intersection of human mentation and human morality." Moral psychology began to experience a revival in the 1990s as research in cognitive ethology and in evolutionary, cognitive, and social psychology, and it began to produce results that bear on moral cognition.