This module, along with (Further Issues in Moral Psychology & Metaethics) ask about the nature of morality and how people actually function in moral contexts. This first module is introductory, while the second considers a few central issues in greater depth. The introduction can be taken on its own, but the follow on module can normally only be taken if this one has been done first.
How is it that we make the everyday moral decisions that we do? How do we justify our choices and actions? Why do people act in morally good or bad ways? How do we develop morally? And cutting across all of these, what is the importance and role of reason, emotion, intuition, or situation? These questions about real-world moral behaviour are the domain of empirical moral psychology, but are also of intense interest to philosophers and ethicists who find here helpful constraints on their theories. Students will study both the theories and methods of empirical moral psychologists, and philosophical theories about the nature of morality, in particular, questions of metaphysics (is morality objective?) and epistemology (how can we know what is right?). Wherever possible, the course will make connections between the psychological and philosophical approaches. Historically empirical psychology has been naive to some important philosophical concerns, and philosophers have often returned the compliment by replacing systematic empirical investigation with mere speculation! An inter-disciplinary partnership is clearly required, and these two half modules reflects the fact that in recent years potentially fruitful partnerships have begun to expand and develop.