[SydPhil] Jeanette Kennett @ UNSW Philosophy Seminar, 12 May

Melissa Merritt m.merritt at unsw.edu.au
Mon May 4 15:10:21 AEST 2015

UNSW Philosophy Seminar
Morven Brown 310
12 May, 12:30-2:00

Jeanette Kennett, Macquarie University
“What’s required for motivation by principle?”

Kant claimed both that “moral feeling is the capacity to be affected by a moral judgment” and that moral motivation is motivation by principle.  What is the psychological mechanism or mechanisms which could enable principles to motivate?  In this paper I will develop in more detail a suggestion I’ve made elsewhere that posits a connection between susceptibility to cognitive dissonance and moral motivation of a broadly Kantian kind. The account I offer will allow us to better understand our successes in conforming our actions to our values, the processes of value revision, and the all too common ways in which we defeat our own values.  It also provides an explanation of the failures of moral motivation in psychopaths that differs from the usual focus on their callousness and lack of empathy.  In essence it argues that the kind of moral motivation that Kant is talking about is constitutively connected to our status as diachronic selves and our rational agentive capacities.

Jeanette Kennett is a Professor of Moral Psychology (Philosophy) and holds a joint appointment between the Department of Philosophy and the Centre for Cognitive Science at Macquarie University.  Her current research focuses on the contribution the sciences can make to our understanding of the cognitive and affective underpinnings of moral reasoning, moral judgment, and moral agency, and the implications for meta-ethics and moral psychology.  She is also working on the issue of self-control and responsibility, with a focus on addiction, in the light of recent empirical work.
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