The Experience of Value From the First Person Perspective
Experience seems to give us insight about what objects are valuable, which actions are right or wrong. These experiences seem, at the very least, to provide us with some direction about the appropriate response towards various objects and actions. But many philosophers argue that our experiences can be explained in terms of our background psychology, in particular, our background moral beliefs, as well as our immediate experience of emotions or other conative states. Thus, such experiences cannot play a role in justifying the practical beliefs they help to shape. This project begins (in chapter 1) by criticizing the account of human psychology that underlies the above account of the connection between experience and value. In particular, I develop a different account of practical experience, which looks at the developmental aspect of our practical views. This account of practical experience is influenced by Jesse Prinz’s account of emotions as embodied perceptual states. In chapter 2, I use my account to criticize the Standard Philosophical Account of Human Psychology. I also develop an account of how experience leads to the formation of moral judgment, and discuss the important role of compassion in our developing practical views. In chapter 3, I extend my discussion of the Standard Philosophical Account of Human Psychology to an important view about reasons for action, which I call the Standard Account of Practical Reasons, according to which all reasons for action are grounded in a person’s subjectively held desires and attitudes. I argue that given our experience as practical agents, we are justified in treating others’ evaluative perspective as (potentially) authoritative for us. In chapter 4, I discuss and criticize some of the most widely held accounts of emotions.