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date: 18 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter will make five claims regarding the development of morality. First, there are at least three, computationally distinct forms of social norm: victim-based, disgust-based, and social conventional. All three can be referred to as moral (although not all individuals place all of these categories of norm within their domain of morality). Second, these three forms of norm develop because of the existence of specific emotion-based learning systems (victim-based reliant on an emotional response to distress cues, disgust-based reliant on an emotional response to disgusted expressions, and social conventional norms reliant on an emotional response to anger). Third, the development of specific classes of norm can be disrupted if these emotion-based learning systems are dysfunctional. Fourth, these emotion-based systems are not automatic but instead under considerable attentional control. Fifth, these emotion-based systems alone cannot lead to the development of all aspects of morality. Specifically, they will not determine which norms the individual places within the moral domain—that is highly dependent on an individual’s culturally influenced theories of morality. In addition, judgments of morality require access to a concept of immorality to compare the action against. For most individuals, part of the concept of an immoral act includes its intentional nature. In short, full moral development requires the integration of mental state information provided by theory of mind with outcome information provided by the emotion learning systems.

Keywords: amygdala, autism, insula, Integrated Emotion Systems model, orbital frontal cortex, psychopath, theory of mind

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