Moral magnetism: A study in relations of emotion, value and world

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Ethics, Moral, Magnetism, Emotion, Value, World

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Philosophy


In this work, I discuss moral magnetism, or how to take the to-be-doneness of some evaluative experience seriously as making sense. On the account I propose, moral magnetism is not part of nature. Nor does it reduce to individual psychological states or occurrences, dispositions, or motivational structures. Instead, it involves what is to be expected, where expectation is embedded in a situation. Sometimes this involves mental states and motives, but it does not involve them necessarily.

Ethical subjectivism would reduce moral magnetism to narrow content, and account for the phenomenon perhaps in terms of a projection error. Against arguing this way, I discuss external constraints on emotions and psychic feelings. On the account I propose, some evaluatively important emotional content is wide content. Thus not only is it important to understand moral magnetism for its own sake as an aspect of evaluative experience, it is also important for overcoming debates over realism and subjectivism, and over internalisms and externalisms in ethics and philosophy of mind.

The dissertation places interpersonal relations and social activities, and the emotions they involve, at the center of both ethics and metaethics. It also expands the discussion of what counts as reasons by bringing considerations from metapsychology to bear upon aspects of moral magnetism.


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