Correct and Incorrect Emotions

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Correct and Incorrect Emotions: Love and Hate in Brentano's Moral Psychology

Federico Boccaccini

Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research / University of Liege 

Franz Brentano is best known for having introduced the concept of intentionality in order to define mental reality. Brentanian scholars have mostly focused on the epistemological and metaphysical aspects of intentionality. However, ethics also plays a central role in Brentano's philosophical description of our mental life as moral agents. What is an intentional ethical theory? Brentano claims a form of moral intuitionism based on the primitive notion of correct emotion. Commentators explain his theory in terms of an ontology of intrinsic value as an intentional correlate of a right feeling, or in term of buck-passing meta-ethical theory. I shall offer a different account: emotions are bearers of moral objective properties; we can therefore fix the content of our moral concepts analysing the normative structure of mental phenomena such as love and hate. I argue that Brentano’s ethical theory is at heart moral psychology, and suggest a compatibilist stance between intuitionism and empiricism.

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Affections and Ethics

Contact name: Lorenzo Greco

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Audience: Open to all