Externalism and Moral Psychology
A proposal that the cognitive processes that make us moral agents are partially constituted by features of our external environments.
What are the psychological foundations of morality? Historically, the issue has been framed as one of emotion versus reason. Hume argued that reason is the slave of the passions and so morality must be based on them; Kant argued that moral law is given by rational agents to themselves in virtue of their rationality. The debate has continued in these terms to the present day. In Like-Minded, Andrew Sneddon argues that "reason" and "passion" do not satisfactorily capture all the important options for explaining the psychological foundations of morality. He proposes a third possibility: that the cognitive processes that make us moral agents are centrally constituted by features of our external environments. Sneddon calls this the Wide Moral Systems Hypothesis (WMSH).
The WMSH fits within an array of positions known as externalism or the Extended Mind Hypothesis, according to which the world outside our bodies is not just input to cognitive processes located within our brains but partially constitutes those processes. After explaining the WMSH, Sneddon presents a series of more particular hypotheses about distinct aspects of our moral psychology: moral judgment, moral reasoning, the attribution of moral responsibility, and production of action. Sneddon revisits overlooked externalist aspects of moral psychology, noting the integration of agent and environment found in existing research. With Like-Minded, Sneddon offers an innovative contribution to work in both moral psychology and the Extended Mind Hypothesis.
Hardcover$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262016117 296 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 20 figures
An intriguing contribution to the fast-growing field of empirical moral psychology... lays out surprising but important implications... those interested in externalist theories or empirical moral psychology will find much of interest.
Sneddon makes useful contributions to several empirical debates about moral judgment.... I hope the psychologists and philosophers whom Sneddon engages with will find his hypothesis worth investigating and his approach to their research worth considering.
Is the extended mind hypothesis just philosophical navel-gazing? Not according to Andrew Sneddon. Like-Minded provocatively explores how 'going wide' about the mind enriches recent empirical and philosophical work in moral psychology. Sneddon's naturalism about the mind shows a refreshing combination of rigor humility and openness. Anyone thinking about minds and morality will find much in Like-Minded of value.