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Moral Psychology, Ancient and Modern

Moral psychology, broadly conceived, explores the psychological preconditions of moral behaviour, constituting an important—indeed increasingly important—part of philosophical ethics. Modern moral psychology tries to take the results of empirical psychology and neuroscience on board, which makes it a genuinely interdisciplinary endeavour. It requires, among other things, the competence to frame the results of empirical studies within a philosophical vocabulary and to apply them to philosophical debates. To give a few examples, moral psychology deals with the analysis of human character, the nature of moral emotions, the relation between moral qualities and well-being, egoistic and altruistic motivation, the various forms of moral development, the acquisition of character traits, moral knowledge and the capacity to perceive morally salient features.

Despite its interest in current-day empirical and experimental approaches, the research field, agenda, and key topics of modern moral psychology have significant connections and overlap with the themes and theories of ancient moral philosophy. Most ancient moral philosophers based their ideas on morally good character, well-being and sound moral development, as well as on a general account of the human soul.

It is the shared conviction of the Cambridge-LMU Moral Psychology Ancient and Modern Group that a dialogue between contemporary moral psychology and experts in ancient moral psychological theories is both necessary and useful. It will enrich the contemporary debate and correct certain biases and conceptual shortcomings of the modern empirically-based approach. At the same time, a new reading of the ancient texts informed by the current debate will help to sharpen the philosophical potential inherent in these texts.


Moodle page for draft papers and other project materials (Registered users only)

 

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