RC2: Moral Cognition between Classic Cognitivism and Situated Cognition


The course will cover classic perspectives on moral cognition and contrast those classic views and shortcomings with situated, i.e., embodied, extended, embedded, and enacted, perspectives on moral cognition. Especially Joshua Greene’s neuro- ethical dual process theory and the explicit marginalization of emotions in this view will be explored and criticised. The bias against emotion in this view will be traced back to the disembodied nature of classic cognitivist experimental paradigms. Through taking a situated perspective the goal of moral cognition shifts from accounting for abstract thought experiments from moral philosophy to the study of real-life moral problems. This perspective allows for a more nuanced view on the cognitive capacities involved in moral cognizing, uncovering the usefulness of emotions to navigate morally challenging situations and emphasizing the importance of the right kind of cultivation of cognitive processes.


The course aims to give an introductory understanding of the emerging field of moral cognition research. Furthermore situated perspectives on cognitive science as they pertain to moral cognition and emotions will be explored.


• Greene, J. D. (2015). Beyond point-and-shoot morality: Why cognitive (neuro) science matters for ethics. The Law & Ethics of Human Rights, 9(2), 141-172.
• Colombetti, G., & Torrance, S. (2009). Emotion and ethics: an inter-(en) active
approach. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 8(4), 505.
• Stephan, A., Walter, S., & Wilutzky, W. (2014). Emotions beyond brain and
body. Philosophical Psychology, 27(1), 65-81.
• Greene, J. (2014). Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them.
• Railton, P. (2014). The affective dog and its rational tale: Intuition and
attunement. Ethics, 124(4), 813-859.
• Greene, J. D. (2017). The rat-a-gorical imperative: Moral intuition and the limits of affective learning. Cognition.

Course location

Hörsaal 4

Course requirements

Instructor information.

MSc Lasse Bergmann


RTG Situated Cognition Workgroup Philosophy of Mind and Cognition Institute of Cognitive Science Osnabrück University


2017-2020 PhD, Cognitive Science, Osnabrück University, Germany 2015-2017 M.Sc. Cognitive Science, Osnabrück University, Germany 2012-2015 B.Sc. Cognitive Science, Osnabrück University, Germany