By Fiery Cushman | Current Opinion in Psychology | June 25, 2015
Mental state representations are a crucial input to human moral judgment. This fact is often summarized by saying that we restrict moral condemnation to “intentional” harms. This simple description is the beginning of a theory, however, not the end of one. There is rich internal structure to the folk concept of intentional action, which comprises a series of causal relations between mental states, actions and states of affairs in the world. Moral judgment shows nuanced patterns of sensitivity to all three of these elements: mental states (like beliefs and desires), the actions that a person performs, and the consequences of those actions. Deconstructing intentional action into its elemental fragments will enable future theories to reconstruct our understanding of moral judgment.