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Sentimentalism and Moral Grammar

What sort of processes underlie our moral judgments? While various emotion-driven accounts have been popular lately, a challenger has emerged in the work of John Mikhail, Susan Dwyer, Marc Hauser, and others. According to these theorists, we are equipped with an innate moral faculty, whose computational principles can be formulated in terms of a universal moral grammar. Moral grammarians argue that emotion-driven accounts can't explain the observed pattern of people's moral permissibility judgments in the various trolley cases. In a fairly long new post over at Ethics Etc, I argue that an Adam Smith-inspired sentimentalism, according to which moral emotions are patient-focused rather than agent-focused, can steal the trousers off universal moral grammar, and promises to do the same job in terms of descriptive adequacy much more cheaply. I'm relatively new to some of the relevant debates, so I would appreciate your corrections and criticisms.

Posted in General.