Who Cares? Generativity and the Moral Emotions, Part 3. A Social Intuitionist "Ecology of Virtue"

Volume 36
Fall 2008
Who Cares? Generativity and the Moral Emotions, Part 3. A Social Intuitionist "Ecology of Virtue"

Recent thinking in positive psychology has promoted the idea that positive and moral emotions facilitate prosocial (perhaps caring) behavior (Fredrickson, 2004; Haidt, 2003a). One prominent theory proposes that certain affective dispositions (e.g., empathy, gratitude) serve as "moral motives" for prosocial action, as they provide a link between other facets of moral character and prosocial action (McCullough, Kilpatrick, Emmons, and Larsen, 2001). Following this line of thought, and the social intuitionist model of moral motivation (SIM motivation) presented in Part 2, this article introduces (hypothesizes) a conceptual model of ten moral emotion-related capacities (virtues) that recent research suggests may be fundamental to a flourishing capacity for generative care: trust, love, elevation, empathy, compassion, gratitude, positive pride, guilt, forgiveness, and humility. The objectives of this article are, first, to describe this model; second, to suggest future directions for theoretical and empirical development of the model; and third, to discuss how it contributes to the emerging relational spirituality paradigm (Hall, 2004; Shults & Sandage, 2006). The article proposes that these moral affective capacities (MACs) represent one plausible model of the "virtues of acknowledged dependence" (MacIntyre, 1999), an "ecology of virtue" that describes the nature of a flourishing relational environment (Flanagan, 2007), and capacities that likely motivate and enable Christian kenotic love (Polkinghorne, 2001). The article concludes by looking ahead to future discussions of emotion and transformation in the relational spirituality paradigm, specifically the nature of the moral dilemma that persons encounter as they strive to develop a virtuous character (Leffel, 2007c).

Dr. G.M. Leffel, M.E. Fritz and M.R. Stephens
202 - 221
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