This is the web page for course 24.120 Moral Psychology given by Richard Holton at MIT, Spring Semester 2013. The class will take place on Monday and Wednesday, 11.00 - 12.30, in 56.154.

Richard Holton's office hours are by appointment. Email him:

The TA for this course is Cole Leahy. Email: Coles's office hours are to be determined.

This is a CI-M course. To fulfill the CI requirements, part of each Wednesday class will consist of student presentations on preassigned texts [Groups].

Assessment will be by means of three short papers (5-7 pages; 30% each) and the class presentation (10% each). At least one paper (normally the first) will be revised and resubmitted. Presentation groups

Readings marked with an asterisk are essential.

Egoism, Altruism and Cooperation

    Wednesday February 13th Egoism II[Handout 2]

      *E. Fehr & U. Fischbacher 'The Nature of Human Altruism' Nature 425 (2003) 785-91 [On-line]

    Tuesday February 19th Cooperation[Handout 3]

      *Michael Tomasello Why we Cooperate (This is a link to the ebook; you might need to get to it through the MIT library site)

Mental States: Emotions, Desires, Beliefs, Intentions

    Monday February 25th Intentions[Handout 5]

      M. Bratman, 'Taking Plans Seriously'

      *Holton, Chapter One of Willing, Wanting, Waiting; includes short presentation of the Bratman approach, and a summary of the empirical work from Gollwitzer.

Akrasia, Weakness of Will, Self-Control

    Monday March 11th [Handout 8]

      G. Kavka, 'The Toxin Puzzle', Analysis 43 (1983), pp. 33-6.

      M. Bratman 'Toxin, Temptation and the Stability of Intention' in Faces of Intention pp. 58-90.

      J. Broome, 'Are Intentions Reasons? And How Should We Cope with Incommensurable Values?', in C. Morris and A. Ripstein (eds.), Practical Rationality and Preference: Essays for David Gauthier (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001) pp. 98-120. Online version

      R. Holton 'Rational Resolve' The Philosophical Review 113 (2004) 507-35 [Acrobat version]


Wednesday March 20th No Class

Mid term Break

Free Will

    Monday April 15th No Class -- Patriot's Day

Self-Knowledge and Self-Deception

    Wednesday April 24th No Class; Memorial service for Sean Collier

    Monday April 29th (Hand out as for previous week)

    A. Mele, 'Real Self-Deception', Behavioural and Brain Sciences 20, 1997 pp. 91-136. Electronic Version (Note: this is a pre-print, and doesn't include the peer commentary that appeared with the printed version).

    R. Holton, 'What is the role of the self in self-deception?' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 2000/1. Acrobat version

Moral Psychology

Last updated May 2nd 2013