Keywords: Legal Emotions; Moral Emotions; Petrażycki; Legal Realism; Social Interaction.
The goal of this essay is to question the existence of legal (and moral) emotions. I begin by outlining the theory of law and morals proposed by Leon Petrażycki at the beginning of the 20th century. Petrażycki saw emotions as central to our normative practices and attempted to define law and morality as two separate mental phenomena. After highlighting some of the weaknesses of his account, I present and criticize Jonathan Haidt's view of moral emotions, one which posits the existence of four families of emotions that are the "guardians" of our moral practices. I suggest that Haidt's conception is too limited, as it fails to recognize that our emotional mechanisms condition the existence of the entire culture, not only its morals. At the end of the essay, I argue for a broader conception, which sees emotions such as shame, guilt or anger as instrumental in any collaborative social interaction.