About Moral Psychology

Our Program and Courses

Moral psychology is a major within F&M’s Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind program. Employing a mixture of philosophy, psychology, sociology, government, religious studies, and more, you’ll explore questions such as: What does it take for a life to be significant or meaningful? Is moral sense innate or learned? How do humans assess others’ behavior and determine punishment for certain actions? You’ll build a perspective of moral psychology partly informed by cognitive science, bridging sciences and humanities to delve into the inner workings of the mind, and form a sturdy foundation of understanding that no single discipline alone could provide.

By the time you graduate, you will have acquired: 

  • An understanding of the major theories in moral psychology
  • A broad perspective of the nature of the mind informed by both moral psychology and cognitive science
  • An understanding of the complexity of the approaches and perspectives involved in studying the nature and function of the mind
  • The ability to construct, evaluate, and critique philosophical arguments and accounts
  • Skills in scientific research, including the ability to form research questions, collect data, and analyze and interpret results
  • The ability to think, write, and speak clearly and logically

Curious to see what a course in moral psychology is like? From psychology to government and from sociology to philosophy, check out our course catalog to see how moral psychology courses bridge the sciences and humanities.

Our Faculty and Staff

Jessica G Cox

Associate Professor of Spanish and Linguistics, Department Chair of Spanish

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Elena C Cuffari

Assistant Professor of Psychology & Scientific Philosophical Studies of Mind

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind; Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

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Bennett W Helm

Elijah E. Kresge Professor of Philosophy

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Lauren H Howard

Associate Professor of Psychology & Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

Biological Foundations of Behavior; Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Stephan A Kaufer

John Williamson Nevin Memorial Professor of Philosophy, Program Chair of Scientific & Philosophical Studies of Mind

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Nick Kroll

Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department Chair of Philosophy

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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John L Modern

Arthur & Katherine Shadek Professor of Religious Studies

Science, Technology and Society; Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Michael L Penn

Professor of Psychology

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Josh D Rottman

Associate Professor of Psychology & Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Kelly E Schenke

Academic Department Coordinator

Philosophy; Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind

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Learning Outside the Classroom

In moral psychology, you’ll find faculty who are energized and invigorated by blending fields of study in cutting-edge scholarship, discussion, and research — and who are just as excited to bring you aboard. Our professors are committed to extending your learning beyond the classroom, helping you discover research and study-abroad opportunities to hone your skills in critical thinking and philosophical analysis. 

Research Opportunities

You’ll find that all students at F&M enjoy extraordinary opportunities to engage in research and independent study. As a moral psychology major, you can join your professors’ research projects, leaving your footprint on what often are years-long endeavors. 
Explore research at F&M

Off-Campus Study

Previous moral psychology majors have taken courses abroad, including studying cognitive science in Hungary and child development in Denmark. They have also spent semesters in Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

Success Beyond F&M

What can you do with a degree in moral psychology? Whether you choose to enter graduate school or begin your chosen career, the distinct combination of scientific and humanistic skills you’ll gain by studying moral psychology at F&M — including critical and creative thought, analysis and interpretation of data and theory, and the ability to communicate, write, debate and listen — will help you develop useful and productive skills highly valuable for any post-graduate pursuit.

Alumni Spotlight

Studying Hope, Solidarity and Cognition

Maceo Whatley '22 is drawn to the “existential, phenomenological approach to looking at human existence,” he said. In particular, the moral psychology major examined the conditions of hope and solidarity. His research surrounded agency (the capacity for individuals to make their own free choices) and the influence that structures such as social class and ethnicity have on such agency.
Read More »

Research Spotlight

Child-Robot Research Merges Psychology and Technology

Several F&M students participated in research with Associate Professor of Psychology Lauren Howard and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jason “Willie” Wilson to test robot-child interaction and learning. The study merges research on children’s social learning and the use of robot assistance for vulnerable populations to give insights into the future of education.
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Related Fields of Study

Philosophy

Learn to think clearly and creatively about the big questions: the nature of meaning, morality, justice, art, the mind, knowledge, language, and reality. By studying philosophy at F&M, you’ll search for understanding while discovering how to value the reason for an answer as much as the answer itself.

Psychology

Embark on a journey of the mind and learn all about why we do the things we do. From non-human animal behavior to language development and neurological impairment, your time spent studying psychology at F&M will unlock a whole new world of understanding of how the brain works.

Sociology

One field of study engages in all sorts of questions about people, institutions, and social structures: sociology. How does power operate in society? How do politics shape our lives? How and why have family relationships changed over time? As a student of sociology, you will explore these interactions to better understand how they shape the world and cultures that we live in.

Moral Psychology in the Spotlight

July 10, 2023

Child-Robot Research Merges Psychology and Technology

Learn how F&M students conducted an interdisciplinary graduate-level study and gained valuable insights into the future of education.

October 14, 2021

Research Fair: Senior Studies Hope, Solidarity and Cognition

Moral psychology major Maceo Whatley '22 worked with Assistant Professor of Psychology Elana Cuffari and George Fourlas, visiting assistant professor of philosophy and government, on individual projects and an ongoing, joint project centered around microagressions, implicit bias and anti-racist ethics.