Dimensions of valuation: Contrasting moral expansiveness and moral capacity

Scholars who seek to understand how individuals differ in their scope of moral regard have typically focused on variations in the total number of entities that are ascribed moral standing. However, this focus leaves important questions unanswered about the nature of people’s moral capacity. For example, two people may be equally morally expansive but differ substantially in the degree to which they value strangers over animals. More generally, recent research suggests that people may treat moral concern as a finite, zero-sum resource, such that expanding moral concern to additional entities entails a dilution of moral concern in other spheres. This talk will review the existing evidence for a “capacity-based” dimension of moral concern and demonstrate how it contrasts with a dimension of moral expansiveness.