A guide to moral knowledge. The epistemic role of moral emotions

Maria Silvia Vaccarezza


In this paper, I defend the epistemic role of moral emotions. After some introductory remarks, by making use of an attitudinal theory of emotions, I claim that emotions are to be conceived as intentional states directed towards evaluative properties in the world, and have therefore both correctness conditions and justification conditions. Then, I define and list moral emotions, and I defend the objective status of evaluative and moral properties. Such preliminary moves allow me to make my main point. Firstly, when discussing the standards to assess if moral emotions’ formal object can be counted as an epistemic one, I propose a threefold intentionality theory of moral emotions, which allows me to equate their secondary formal objects to those of epistemic emotions. Secondly, when considering the roles moral emotions must play in order to be counted as epistemically relevant, I defend both the direct justificatory role and the indirect motivational role of moral emotions.


Epistemic emotions; Moral emotions; Moral knowledge

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