PAPER 2 - The Effect of Emotions on Moral Judgments In...

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The Effect of Emotions on Moral Judgments In regard to explaining moral judgments, there is a debate on whether emotions play a role. There is valid reasoning on both sides of the argument, but a unanimous correct answer seems to be difficult to come by. This paper will argue that emotions can corrupt one’s moral judgments. First and foremost, the word “corrupt” can mean a range of things, from “destroy” to “ruin.” When the word “corrupt” is used in this paper, it will be used to mean “to change from its original form” or “to have an effect on.” In Joshua Greene’s article, The Secret Joke of Kant’s Soul, he discusses the differences between deontology and consequentialism. Deontology and consequentialism differ mainly in what is important in a judgment. Consequentialism deals with the end result of an act, and if the end justifies the means. Deontology, on the other hand, deals with the act itself, not the end result. It is rather obvious that these two views clash when it comes to many different moral dilemmas (Greene, 2-3) Greene goes on to discuss a moral problem known as the “Trolley Problem.” The vignette given to subjects describes a scenario in which a trolley is out of control and about to kill five people on the tracks, and the only way to stop the trolley is to push a large man in front of the train. The deontology view would argue that it is wrong to kill one man, even if it will save the lives of five others. It is wrong because the act of pushing the man in front of the trolley and killing him is wrong no matter how many lives are saved. If the large man is not pushed in front of the trolley, the deaths are an accident that nobody had control over, but if the large man is pushed to his death, an intentional choice would be made to end a person’s life (Greene 9).
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Emotions play a major role in the deontologists’ argument in this moral dilemma. For instance, assuming that the five people on the tracks are just as innocent as the large man, in that they were making an honest mistake being there, and not drunk or acting foolish, and equal amount of sympathy would be felt for the five people and the large man if either were to die. In the scenario of equal innocence, it would not be fair for the large man to die. Empathy would
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This note was uploaded on 02/26/2012 for the course HPS 0625 taught by Professor Macheray during the Fall '09 term at Pittsburgh.

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PAPER 2 - The Effect of Emotions on Moral Judgments In...

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