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Moral Psychology: An Introduction

ISBN: 978-0-7456-7224-3
216 pages
March 2016, Polity
Moral Psychology: An Introduction (0745672248) cover image


Moral psychology is the systematic inquiry into how morality works, when it does work, and breaks down when it doesn't work.

In this comprehensive new textbook, Mark Alfano outlines the five central concepts in the study of moral psychology: agency, patiency, sociality, temporality, and reflexivity. Subsequent chapters each assess a key area of research, which Alfano relates both to the five central concepts and to empirical findings. He then draws out the philosophical implications of those findings before suggesting future directions for research.

One of Alfano's guiding themes is that moral philosophy without psychological content is empty, whereas psychological investigation without philosophical insight is blind. He advocates and demonstrates a holistic vision that pictures moral psychology as a project of collaborative inquiry into the descriptive and normative aspects of the human condition.

Featuring a glossary of technical terms, further reading sections and chapter-by-chapter study questions, this rich, systematic, and accessible introduction to moral psychology will be suitable for both undergraduates and researchers in philosophy, psychology and related fields.

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Table of Contents



1. Preferences

2. Responsibility

3. Emotion

4. Character

5. Disagreement





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Author Information

Mark Alfano is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton University Center for Human Values and Center for Health and Wellbeing.
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"Moral Psychology is a first-rate contribution to philosophy and a pedagogical tour de force, a fantastic gift to scholars working in ethics and moral psychology and to our students. Alfano is wickedly smart, in complete control of all the philosophical and empirical literature in moral psychology, and writes in crystal-clear, inviting prose. The study questions are amazing challenges to think hard, often personally, about implicit bias, one s own and one s loved ones trustworthiness, emotions, character, relativism, and the significance of morality to a good life. Simply outstanding."
Owen Flanagan, Duke University

"Accessibly written, though far from being a mere survey, this book is at once a concise and in the best sense idiosyncratic introduction to some recent findings in empirical moral psychology and an argued account of the relationship between those findings and moral philosophy."
Edward Harcourt, University of Oxford
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