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Law, Reason, and Emotion? The Challenge from Empirical Ethics

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Empirically minded philosophers and scientists have recently challenged the traditional view that legal and moral decision making are guided by reason rather than emotion. The rationalistic ideal no longer seems to be an appropriate picture of normative decision making. This paper uses the work of Joshua Greene, a philosophically trained psychologist, to exemplarily introduce some of the challenges for the rationalistic ideal from the point of view of empirical ethics. An outline of Greene's empirical research is followed by a detailed examination of the arguments for and against the normative implications of this research. It is argued that legal scholars as well as ethicists should seriously engage with the recent advances in empirical research concerning normative decision making. Prompting this engagement is the underlying aim of this article.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by authorisation of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), is an international, peer-reviewed journal, first published in 1907. It features original articles on philosophical research on legal and social questions, covering all aspects of social and legal life.
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