Morality and what’s love got to do with it
The revival of Hume and his emphasis on emotions in both moral philosophy and psychology focuses for the most part on what we could call negative emotions, such as blame, anger, contempt and disgust. This focus is undeniably narrow and biased. Hume himself recognised that positive emotions like admiration, pride or honour play an equally important role in moral motivation and judgment through the formation of our moral identity. I focus on one particular positive emotion, namely love. First I explain why moral philosophers often overlook love: they may think that love is not an emotion or not an emotion relevant for (or even opposed to) the moral standpoint. Yet I argue that there are strong reasons in favour of the claim that love is an important source of moral motivation and moral knowledge. These reasons draw on theoretical frameworks set up by care ethicists and meta-ethicists who emphasize the relational nature of moral obligations. Moreover, there is empirical evidence pointing in the direction of causal relationships between love and moral sensitivity gathered by neuroscientists and developmental psychologists. Thus, exploring the connections between love and morality will provide a broader and more realistic canvas of our ethical experience.