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Reason, Emotion, and the Psychology of Moral Judgement


Admission requirements

Good comprehension of English will be required.


Moral rationalists (like Immanuel Kant) claim that normative judgments (“X is right/wrong”) are a matter of genuine practical reason, moral sentimentalists (like David Hume) claim that it is a matter of emotional responses.

In recent years, empirical moral psychologists have posed some serious challenges to the rationalist view, arguing that moral sensitivity is due to our emotional sensitivity and that moral judgments resemble disgust responses more than rational deliberation. Using cutting-edge scientific methods, these “experimental” philosophers and psychologists have claimed that moral judgment is performed in brain areas associated with emotion, that moral reasoning can often, or even usually, be shown to be post hoc confabulation or that moral judgments follow unconscious rules that subjects are not themselves aware of.

This seminar aims at a systematic reading of some of the most important literature on these issues and tries to develop a philosophical assessment of its implications.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Rooster BA Wijsbegeerte 2010-2011

Mode of instruction


Test method

Oral presentations and paper.


Course material will be available on Blackboard

Reading list

Course material will be available on Blackboard


Please register for this course on uTwist. See registration procedure

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Aanmelden voor Contractonderwijs via:


H.C. Sauer, MA:


Specialisation: Ethics and Political Philosophy