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Hardcover | $45.00 X | £31.95 | 212 pp. | 5.7 x 8.6 in | September 1991 | ISBN: 9780262231633
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Caring About Morality

Philosophical Perspectives in Moral Psychology


Why do people care about being moral? What motivates us to interpret our lives in moral terms? In this book Thomas Wren uncovers and assesses the largely hidden philosophical assumptions about human motivation that have shaped contemporary psychological theories about morality.The traditional view is that truly moral men and women want to do what is right and good for its own sake' However, this internalist perspective has been eclipsed in recent psychologies of morality in favor of the view that people act morally for the same extrinsic rewards and punishments that supposedly motivate every other sort of human action. Wren argues that it is possible to develop a social and behavioral science compatible with, and even based on, the conviction that morality is intrinsically motivated.Beginning with behaviorism and social learning theory and moving on to the more cognitive approaches of psychoanalytic and cognitive developmental theories of moral experience, Wren shows that these theories embody tacit but distinctive metaethical perspectives concerning the nature of moral judgment and what he calls "moral care," the tendency to think of reality in moral categories. Wren points out that this tendency is conceptually distinct from a specific "moral motive," such as benevolence or loyalty. He notes the difference between these two sorts of motivational tendencies in each of the psychological theories discussed, and derives results that are themselves subjected to the test of whether they can be subscribed to in good faith by men and women who are not only theorists but also moral agents. Wren's analysis of Piaget's theory is especially valuable and leads to a discussion of Kohlberg's later psychological work, a discussion that will open new areas of inquiry to philosophers.Thomas E. Wren is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago.

About the Author

Thomas E. Wren is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University of Chicago.