Are emotions necessary and sufficient for making moral judgments?

Marco Aurélio Sousa Alves


Jesse Prinz (2006, 2007) claimed that emotions are necessary and sufficient for moral judgments. First of all, I clarify what this claim amounts to. The view that he labels emotionism will then be critically assessed. Prinz marshals empirical findings to defend a series of increasingly strong theses about how emotions are essential for moral judgments. I argue that the empirical support upon which his arguments are based is not only insufficient, but it even suggests otherwise, if properly interpreted. My criticism is then extended to his sentimentalist theory, that accounts for how emotions are integrated into moral judgments. The central problem is that Prinz’s view fails to capture the rational aspect of moral evaluation. I make this failure explicit and defend that some version or other of neosentimentalism is a more promising route.


Jesse Prinz; Emotion; Emotionism; Sentimentalist Theory; Neosentimentalism

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ethic@. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, SC, Brasil, eISSN 1677-2954

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