Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 95, 2021

The Diakonia of Truth

Josh Taccolini
Pages 79-90

Emotions and Moral Judgment
An Evaluation of Contemporary and Historical Emotion Theories

One desideratum for contemporary theories of emotion both in philosophy and affective science is an explanation of the relation between emotions and objects that illicit them. According to one research tradition in emotion theory, the Evaluative Tradition, the explanation is simple: emotions just are evaluative judgments about their objects. Growing research in affective science support this claim suggesting that emotions constitute (or contribute to) evaluative judgments such as moral judgments about right and wrong. By contrast, recent scholarship in two historical emotion theories, Augustinian and Thomistic, emphasize their sharp distinction between cognitive judgments and affectivity or between reason and emotion. For these historical models, reason, not emotion, is responsible for moral judgment. Are the evaluative and historical models at irreconcilable odds? Should we discard old models that fail to satisfy intuitions about the intricate role of emotions in moral judgment? This paper compares these research programs and suggests a roadmap for collaboration.