Sarah Songhorian

The role of implicit attitudes in ethics. An analysis of their impact on empathy, sympathy, and trust

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: implicit attitudes, group identification, empathy, sympathy, trust.

The literature on what implicit attitudes and biases are and on how they can predict prejudicial behavior towards certain groups has been growing extremely fast in the last decades. Such data assumes that human beings are sensitive to their own and others’ group identities. The troublesome feature of these researches is that they show an effect that mostly goes under the radar. The aim of this paper is to look at this data from the perspective of moral philosophy. Thus, on the one hand, I will analyze if and to what extent implicit attitudes have an impact on abilities that are crucial for moral judgment and for moral decision-making – the descriptive goal – and, on the other, I will consider whether this influence should bear any normative significance for moral theory – the normative goal. In order to substantiate these claims, I will provide some conceptual distinctions concerning “empathyµ and “trustµ (§2). Then, by referring to some experimental data I will put forth the descriptive claim on the influence of implicit attitudes on our empathic and trusting attitudes (§3). Finally, I will discuss the normative relevance of these results, as far as our moral theories are concerned (§4).

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