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Agency, Science, and Ethics

Projekter: ProjektForskning

  • Afdeling for Filosofi
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This is a project in ethics broadly construed. Its main aim is to assess the impact on ethical theory of recent advances in cognitive and affective science. In particular, I shall argue that an empirically informed understanding of human agency clashes with the traditional model of human agency more or less implicitly assumed by many moral philosophers. On this model, human beings are agents that think, act, and feel for a reason; they must have the capacity to “see” reasons in these various realms of life. In fact, for many modern moral philosophers, the capacity to see and act for reasons is what defines us as persons, setting us apart from other animals, and what constitutes the very precondition of moral responsibility. Without denying the existence of our rational and deliberative capacities, evidence from cognitive and affective science offers a rather different picture of human agency. In short, articulated and controlled deliberation does not play a considerable part in our daily agency much of which is automatic and influenced by internal and external uncontrolled factors. Ethics cannot afford to ignore the psychological constraints of human agency, for it is ultimately concerned with action guidance for human beings. I shall argue that adjusting the philosophers’ model to these constraints, as I propose to do here, will reconfigure the role and form of ethical theory.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/08/201031/07/2013




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