Making sense of the self: an integrative framework for moral agency

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The self is conceptualized in a multitude of ways in different scholarly fields; at the same time moral agency appears to presuppose a unitary conception of the self. This paper explores this tension by introducing ‘moral senses’ which inform the normative evaluations of a person. The moral senses are featured as innate dispositions, but they inevitably recruit discursive categorizations in order to function. These senses forward both an ‘individual self’, by experiencing a unitary body, mind and character, and a ‘social self’, that is similarly experienced as a body, a mind, and a character. This social self is enabled by the capacity to internalize other people's feelings and intentions and the need to have otherworldly explanations for observable reality. This integrative framework of moral senses provides an understanding that helps to address the challenge of moral heterogeneity and plurality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • boundary work
  • individual self
  • moral agency
  • moral intuitions
  • social self

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