In this article Nichols makes an exploration of altruistic moral behaviour to determine the reason for its motivation…

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In this article Nichols makes an exploration of altruistic moral behaviour to determine the reason for its motivation. Firstly, he explores the available theories of the ‘moral mind’ and then sets out reasons for their acceptance or dismissal. Secondly, he explores what evidence there is for an emotional account being the motivating factor for moral behaviour. Finally, he determines that there is an affective system which is triggered by an emotional reaction and creates specific altruistic behaviour. This system he terms the ‘Concern Mechanism’. Nicholas concludes that the ‘Concern Mechanism’ is an affective system that is activated by an individual’s emotional or sympathetic response that recognises distress in others while only relying upon minimal mindreading ability (2001:425).

In his argument Nichols addresses two questions: one of which explores what mechanism actually initiates the motivational altruistic state itself. The other question seeks to find out which mindreading mechanism is required for…

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