Two Kinds of Moral Competence: Moral Agent, Moral Judge

Chapter
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 31)

Abstract

In this paper, I argue that some of the disagreements about the continuity or discontinuity of human moral life with that of animals can be assuaged by drawing a distinction between two senses in which someone can be a ‘moral being’: being a moral agent (i.e. being morally responsible for one’s action) and being a moral judge (i.e. being able to form moral judgments). More precisely, I argue that it is not necessary to be a moral judge to be a moral agent, because moral actions (actions we are morally responsible for) don’t need to stem from moral judgments. Consequently, I argue that, even if moral judgment is highly likely to be a human specificity, moral agency is something that we might share with other animals, given that the only requisite to be a moral agent is to be able to be motivated by the fact that other entities do have interests.

Keywords

Moral Judgment Moral Responsibility Moral Agent Epistemic Condition Peanut Butter 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported in part by a Grant from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (ANR Blanche: SoCoDev). I thank François Jacquet and an anonymous reviewer for useful comments on previous versions of this paper.

References

  1. Aristotle. 2011. Nicomachean ethics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arpaly, N., and T. Schroeder. 1999. Praise, blame and the whole self. Philosophical Studies 93(2): 161–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumard, N. 2010. Comment nous sommes devenus moraux: Une histoire naturelle du bien et du mal. Paris: Odile Jacob.Google Scholar
  4. Blair, R.J. 1995. A cognitive developmental approach to morality: Investigating the psychopath. Cognition 57: 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blair, R.J. 1997. Moral reasoning and the child with psychopathic tendencies. Personality and Individual Differences 26: 731–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cova, F., E. Dupoux, and P. Jacob. 2010. Moral evaluation shapes linguistic reports of others’ psychological states, not theory-of-mind judgments. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33: 334–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cova, F., P. Jacob, and E. Dupoux. Submitted. The more you deserve blame, the more you deserve blame: The “valence matching” heuristic.Google Scholar
  8. Damasio, A. 1995. Descartes’ error. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
  9. De Waal, F. 1997. Good natured: The origins of right and wrong in humans and other animals. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fischer, J.M., and M. Ravizza. 1998. Responsibility and control: An essay on moral responsibility. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frankfurt, H.G. 1969. Alternate possibilities and moral responsibility. Journal of Philosophy 66(23): 829–839.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gollwitzer, M., and M. Denzler. 2009. What makes revenge sweet: Seeing the offender suffer or delivering a message? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45: 840–844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kant, I. 2011. Groundwork of the metaphysics of moral. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Knobe, J. 2006. The concept of intentional action: A case study in the uses of folk psychology. Philosophical Studies 130: 203–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Levy, N. 2008. The responsibility of psychopaths revisited. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology 14(2): 129–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marit, R.S., and P.A. Wilkosz. 2005. Disorders of diminished motivation. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 20(4): 377–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Mikhail, J. 2011. Elements of moral cognition: Rawls’ linguistic analogy and the cognitive science of moral and legal judgment. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Pizarro, D., E. Uhlmann, and P. Salovey. 2003. Asymmetry in judgments of moral blame and praise. Psychological Science 14(3): 267–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Singer, P. 1972. Famine, affluence and morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1(3): 229–243.Google Scholar
  20. Turiel, E. 2002. The culture of morality: Social development, context and conflict. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swiss Center for Affective SciencesUniversity of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations