Psychedelics and Moral Psychology: The Case of Forgiveness

In Chris Letheby & Philip Gerrans (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Psychedelic Psychiatry. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Several authors have recently suggested that classic psychedelics might be safe and effective agents of moral enhancement. This raises the question: can we learn anything interesting about the nature of moral experience from a close examination of transformative psychedelic experiences? The interdisciplinary enterprise of philosophical psychopathology attempts to learn about the structure and function of the “ordinary” mind by studying the radically altered mind. By analogy, in this chapter we argue that we can gain knowledge about the everyday moral life by studying extraordinary experiences of altered moral cognition and experience. We focus on a specific class of cases: experiences of forgiveness induced by psychedelics. We argue that close attention to such experiences reveals the importance of thought/emotion coherence and dissonance in the moral life and vindicates some heterodox ideas about moral phenomenology and psychology.

Author Profiles

Chris Letheby
University of Western Australia
Samir Chopra
Brooklyn College (CUNY)


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