Andrei Zavaliy (Kuwait)


Andrei Zavaliy (Kuwait) - Ph.D., The City University of New York (2008), Associate Professor of Philosophy, American University of Kuwait, specialization in the area of Aristotle's Ethics, Applied Ethics, Moral Psychology, Ethical Theory.

Empirical Evidence and Moral Motivation: Taking Concrete Steps to Increase the Likelihood of Pro-social Behavior (Interactive theoretical presentation in the style of TED)

Presentation language: English / Russian

The dominating theories of moral motivation can be roughly divided into the ones that postulate a conceptual or causal connection between accepting a moral belief and a corresponding desire to act on that belief ('internalism'), and the ones that deny the efficacy of a purely cognitive state to affect behavior without an independently standing desire 'to do the right thing' ('externalism'). The existing empirical evidence leans strongly in favor of the externalist theories of motivation, which, in turn, puts in doubt the practical value of formal moral education. If no amount of the 'correct' beliefs about morality can influence prosocial behavior of an agent who lacks the relevant desire, then what is the use of offering classes in theoretical ethics? Based on the available evidence gathered by researchers in the field of empirical ethics, I will suggest several practical steps in increasing the likelihood of pro-social behavior, especially among students The generation of the desirable affective states, capable of motivation, can be achieved through the methods of imaginative thought experiments, by creating a conducive social environment and through the process of cultivation of such emotions as sympathy, gratitude and guilt. At the same time, it will be argued that having a sound theoretical background in moral theory is essential for channeling the emotion-based motivational drives into the proper forms of behavioral expression.