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Ecological Moral Realism: An Alternative Theoretical Framework for Studying Moral Psychology

By Eranda Jayawickreme and Anthony Chemero


The authors propose that the empirical study of human moral behavior as undertaken by positive psychologists, psychologists interested in the study of values, and experimental ethicists can be normative at its core, yet also remain truly scientific. To do this, those interested in the empirical study of human moral behavior should consider the concept of affordances, which is central to the Gibsonian ecological psychology tradition, as an approach to studying virtues and strengths. From this perspective, virtues can be better defined as part of moral analogues of affordances (MAAs). Just as the affordance “being-climbable ” is a relation between climbing ability and height, so one can similarly define a MAA as an opportunity for moral behavior. Virtues, on this account, would be defined as abilities to behave appropriately in morally relevant situations. If one studies virtues as components of MAAs, virtues are only comprehensible in terms of morally relevant situations. Similarly, morally relevant situations are comprehensible only in terms of abilities to behave appropriately in them, that is, in terms of virtues. We believe that such an approach holds many advantages

Topics: affordances, values, virtue, ecological psychology
Year: 2013
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