Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2022
The first chapter takes up the task of defining ethics, considered as a set of psychological structures and processes. In other work, I have argued that the three processes of categorization are, in distinct ways, consequential for our response to literature. Specifically, we make use of rule-defined categorization, prototype-defined categorization, and exemplar-defined categorization. In my descriptive account of ethics, all three types also enter importantly into our moral thought, feeling, and behavior. In connection with rule-based categorization, I argue that we have broad or fundamental ethical orientations that are guided by our various settings of parameters within general principles. These parameters concern such issues as what sorts of action or condition fall under the scope of morality. For example, there appears to be a broad division between people who are principally concerned with ending unjustified pleasure and people whose primary moral worries bear on undeserved pain. The first chapter explores this level of ethics.