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Cultivating Moral Emotions

door Prof.dr. Jan Bransen (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Abstract

The core idea of sentimentalism is that emotions provide our access to the moral realm, both to its reality as well as to its intelligibility. It is crucial, however, that we reflect critically on our emotions so as to develop a mature appreciation of their import. "Mature appreciation" is my phrase for the attitude that allows us - in the domain of theoretical reason - to rationally accept a belief's content as true and - in the domain of practical reason - a desire's content as valuable.

In this talk I develop an account of the process of learning to reflectively appreciate the import of our emotions that is not intellectualistic in character. Could we come up with a story of, say, second-order emotions (i.e. emotions about emotions) that does not need serious
intellectual resources - abstract, academic, linguistic capacities? Another way of asking this question might be: could we develop an account of phronesis (Aristotle's term for "practical wisdom") that could be used to support the moral education of persons without relying too much on their intellectual capacities?

The question is fuelled by a social concern. Our society is threatened by a divide between educationally privileged and underprivileged people. The educationally underprivileged may lack intellectual capacities, and perhaps merely intellectual capacities. So far I am unwilling to accept that limited intellectual capacities deprive people of the chance to develop moral
maturity.

Jan Bransen is professor of philosophy of behavioural science at Radboud University Nijmegen. He has published a range of papers in the philosophy of mind and action on personal identity, self-knowledge, autonomy and practical reason. He founded the journal Philosophical Explorations, and edited two collections of papers, The Problematic Reality of Values (1996, with Marc Slors) and Human Action, Causation, and Deliberation (1998, with Stefaan Cuypers). He just published a trade book in Dutch: Word zelf filosoof, Veen
Magazines, 2010, in which he teaches the general public six philosophical skills that could help them to upgrade their opinions. A subsidiary aim of the book is to suggest the viability of a sentimentalistic humanism.

Laatst gewijzigd:30 oktober 2012 20:39