Thought Experiments, Ethics And Emotions

Contemplação - Revista Acadêmica de Filosofia E Teologia da Faculdade João Paulo II 21:154-164 (2020)
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This article aims to analyze the functioning of thought experiments in ethics. We will demonstrate that although many thought experiments in ethics can be reconstructed as arguments, according to the thesis defended by John Norton, its reconstructed version does not have the same epistemic force. We will argue that the reconstructed versions are not capable of bringing the same type of understanding in relation to thought experiments, which have an explanatory advantage that arguments do not have. Therefore, arguments are not a sufficient condition for solving problems within ethics and also within thought experiments in this area. We will argue that emotions can be one of the non-argumentative factors that can produce negative and positive interference on thought experimenters and thought experiment, which cannot be demonstrated accurately in the reconstructed version. In this way, the reconstructed version is not able to convey an adequate understanding of emotions and other influences. Finally, we will elaborate on two thought experiments that demonstrate the need to use emotions in moral actions based on the criticism produced by Flávio Williges against traditional moral theories. These thought experiments can be reconstructed as arguments, but without giving us the same understanding that thought experiments are capable of.

Author's Profile

Roberto Schmitz Nitsche
Federal University of Santa Maria


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