Moral emotions. The social construction of self-esteem Philosophy Seminar MORAL EMOTIONS. THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF SELF-ESTEEM

Moral emotions. The social construction of self-esteem

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Victoria Camps
Victoria Camps, conductor


  1. Victoria CampsVictoria Camps

    Es catedrática de Filosofía moral y política en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Senadora independiente por el PSC-PSOE, de 1993 a 1996, en ese período presidió la Comisión de contenidos televisivos. Es presidenta de la Fundación Víctor Grifols i Lucas, dedicada a la investigación y promoción de la bioética, miembro del Consejo Audiovisual de Cataluña desde 2002 y presidenta del Comité Consultivo de Bioética de la Generalitat de Cataluña. Sus últimos libros publicados son: Virtudes públicas, Paradojas del individualismo, El malestar de la vida pública, El siglo de las mujeres, Una vida de calidad y La voluntad de vivir. Es coordinadora de Historia de la ética (en tres volúmenes).

My starting hypothesis is that the emotions (feelings, passions, affections) play an important role in the moral behavior closely connected with reason. Reason and passion are not opposites, but influence each other. My interest is analyzing the location of the emotions in ethic to highlight two questions: a) emotions are the excuse of moral behavior; b) emotions can be governed and this government is one of ethic's tasks. It is evident how this point of view connects with an ethic of virtues, as well as the importance of the moral education.

I propose treating self-esteem specifically in the sense that it is a compilations of the set of moral emotions. All emotions have and ambivalent nature, they may be appropriate or inadequate, and this is why they may promote or hinder the functioning of moral in human beings. Considering that a fair society should provide in words of Rawls "the social basis of self-esteem", it is important to see what content can we give to this concept, to what length can the State guarantee it, and in which is the way that it is built by the individuals.

The considerations about self-esteem and about its ethic nature guide me to the question about moral education in the Aristotelian sense of the formation of the character. The proposal of a moral and personal identity obliges in our time to take into consideration the theories that come from psychology. The formation of of the character is inseparable from self-recognition ("know yourself"), a task that has been colonized in some way by what is called "therapeutic ethos". A formed personality is the opposite of the psychopath, who is seen as "amoral" or "asocial". But health and ethic are two exchangeable concepts. The therapeutic ethos and the moral ethos are different things. We will have to see if we can determine today what should the moral ethos be and, in case we can do it, what are the political and practical consequences that derive from this.