Morality as Navigation
: Building a Moral Map and Compass from Constructive Sentimentalism

  • Brett Alexander Raymond-Barker

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Moral psychologists tend to regard Humean philosophy favourably, although appear to have overlooked the updated version of Hume’s treatise proffered by Prinz (2004a, 2004b, 2009). Three studies, targeted towards areas of contention between Moral Foundations Theory (Graham et al., 2013) and the Theory of Dyadic Morality (Schein & Gray, 2018), show emotions are elicited by (im)moral events, can contribute to moralization, and may act to amplify or suppress judgements of severity - findings which appear supportive of Prinz's claim that morals are constructed from emotions. Study 1 provides a conceptual replication of Gray and Keeney's (2015) research, with results challenging their claim that violations of purity are just a weird type of harm. Associations found in Study 1, between harm-anger and impurity-disgust, were also apparent in Study 2 - which provides an open-ended test of, and finds support for, the emotion-content relationships hypothesized under Constructive Sentimentalism. Study 3 provides an extended conceptual replication of Seidel and Prinz (2013a), using a 'content-free' emotion induction paradigm in combination with the investigatory framework outlined by Cameron, Lindquist and Gray (2015), finding an influence of interoceptive awareness on moral judgements. Arguments are advanced to establish purity and harm as being at least equally important, and to contend that the vast majority of moral violations contain mixed moral content - explaining the frequent co-occurrence of anger and disgust in response to moral transgressions. Following Constructive Sentimentalism (Prinz, 2009), moral judgements are postulated to require two points of reference, whereby 'Autonomy', 'Harm', and 'Other' may be aligned to one axis, and 'Continuity', 'Purity', and 'Self' aligned to another. This approach is shown to accommodate different theories of morality into a common theoretical framework and provide a means of orientating research findings and themes within moral psychology via reference to the tools, methods and practices of navigation.
Date of Award26 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorAmanda Holmes (Director of Studies) & Carla Startin (Co-Supervisor)


  • Morals
  • Moral Emotions
  • Morality
  • Emotion
  • Constructive Sentimentalism

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