Philosophy has as much to do with feelings as it does with thoughts and thinking. Philosophy, accordingly, requires not only emotional sensitivity but an understanding of the emotions, not as curious but marginal psychological phenomena but as the very substance of life. In this, the second book in a series devoted to his work on the emotions, Robert Solomon presents a defense of the emotions and of sentimentality against the background of what he perceives as a long history of (...) abuse in philosophy and social thought and art and literary criticism. The title piece reopens a classic debate about the role of sentimentality in art and literature. In subsequent chapters, Solomon discusses not only such "moral sentiments" as sympathy and compassion but also grief, gratitude, love, horror, and even vengeance. He also defends, with appropriate caution, the "seven deadly sins." The emotions, at least some emotions--are essential to a well-lived life. They are or can be virtues, features of the human condition without which civilized life would be unimaginable. (shrink)
I investigate the normative status of an unexamined category of emotions: ‘lyrical’ emotions about the transience of things. Lyrical emotions are often accused of sentimentality—a charge that expresses the idea that they are unfitting responses to their objects. However, when we test the merits of that charge using the standard model of emotion evaluation, a surprising problem emerges: it turns out that we cannot make normative distinctions between episodes of such feelings. Instead, it seems that lyrical emotions are always (...) fitting. Although this claim is counterintuitive, the price of denying it is to hold that such emotions are never fitting—an equally strange result. If this is correct, then the commonplace discourse of sentimentality surrounding lyrical emotions lacks normative moorings. (shrink)
This article considers the ongoing difficulties for mainstream political theory of actualizing human rights, with particular reference to Rorty’s attempt to transcend their liberal foundations. It argues that there is a problematic disjuncture between his articulation of exclusion and his hope for inclusion via the expansion of the liberal human rights culture. More specifically, it shows that Rorty’s description of victimhood is based on premises unavailable to him, with the consequence that stateless persons are rendered inhuman, and, further, that his (...) accounts of sentimentality and solidarity have limited potential for the inclusion of such victims within the liberal ‘community of justification’. In the final analysis, the article argues that there is a substantial mismatch between Rorty’s dependence on both liberal norms and international political practice, and his hopes for the human rights culture to include those stripped of human dignity. (shrink)
To ward off Advent sentimentality, preachers and church musicians need to find theologically robust approaches to proclaiming the simultaneously sobering and glorious eschatological themes of Advent. Classical Christian doctrines, brought to life by theologically astute contemporary hymnwriters, offer many promising angles of vision for worshipers, preachers, teachers, and theologians.
Richard Rorty has recently argued that support for human rights ought to be cultivated in terms of a sentimental education which manipulates our emotions through detailed stories intended to produce feelings of sympathy and solidarity. Rorty contends that a sentimental education will be more effective in promoting respect for human rights than will a moral discourse grounded on rationality and universalism. In this paper, I critically examine Rorty’s proposal and argue that it fails to recognize the necessity of moral reasoning (...) in creating and implementing the types of international human rights regimes which are required precisely when our sympathy is lacking or completely fails. In addition to a sentimental education, an effective human rights culture must include strong principles of moral agency, such as freedom and equality, and a commitment to the institutionalization of those principles as human rights norms. (shrink)
Following the success of Sony Corporation’s “AIBO”, robot cats and dogs are multiplying rapidly. “Robot pets” employing sophisticated artificial intelligence and animatronic technologies are now being marketed as toys and companions by a number of large consumer electronics corporations. -/- It is often suggested in popular writing about these devices that they could play a worthwhile role in serving the needs of an increasingly aging and socially isolated population. Robot companions, shaped like familiar household pets, could comfort and entertain lonely (...) older persons. This goal is misguided and unethical. While there are a number of apparent benefits that might be thought to accrue from ownership of a robot pet, the majority and the most important of these are predicated on mistaking, at a conscious or unconscious level, the robot for a real animal. For an individual to benefit significantly from ownership of a robot pet they must systematically delude themselves regarding the real nature of their relation with the animal. It requires sentimentality of a morally deplorable sort. Indulging in such sentimentality violates a (weak) duty that we have to ourselves to apprehend the world accurately. The design and manufacture of these robots is unethical in so far as it presupposes or encourages this delusion. -/- The invention of robot pets heralds the arrival of what might be called “ersatz companions” more generally. That is, of devices that are designed to engage in and replicate significant social and emotional relationships. The advent of robot dogs offers a valuable opportunity to think about the worth of such companions, the proper place of robots in society and the value we should place on our relationships with them. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue that, barring a few important exceptions, the phenomenon we refer to using the expression “being moved” is a distinct type of emotion. In this paper’s first section, we motivate this hypothesis by reflecting on our linguistic use of this expression. In section two, pursuing a methodology that is both conceptual and empirical, we try to show that the phenomenon satisfies the five most commonly used criteria in philosophy and psychology for thinking that some affective episode (...) is a distinct emotion. Indeed, being moved, we claim, is the experience of a positive core value (particular object) perceived by the moved subject as standing out (formal object) in the circumstances triggering the emotion. Drawing on numerous examples, we describe the distinctively rich phenomenology characteristic of the experience as well as the far-reaching action-tendencies and functions associated with it. Having thus shown that the candidate emotion seem to satisfy the five criteria, we go on, in section three, to compare it with sadness and joy, arguing that it should not be confused with either. Finally, in section four, we illustrate the explanatory power of our account of “being moved” by showing how it can shed light on, and maybe even justify, the widespread distrust we feel towards the exhibition of ‘sentimentality’. On the whole and if we are right, we have uncovered an emotion which, though never or rarely talked about, is of great interest and no small importance. (shrink)
There is a long and tortuous history of misinterpreting Smithian social theory. After rehearsing that history we offer here a way of understanding Smith that, unlike much of recent revisionist Smith scholarship, does not further add to this confusion. Our proposal is to understand the relation between moral and economic behaviour in Smith as analogous to the way in which Habermas makes strategic (and normatively oriented) behaviour parasitic on a more basic communicative competence. Given this analogy, it is ironic that (...) Habermas's own understanding of Smith's theory also leaves much to be desired. (shrink)
We commonly identify something seriously defective in a human life that is lived in ignorance of important but unpalatable truths. At the same time, some degree of misapprehension of reality may be necessary for individual health and success. Morally speaking, it is unclear just how insistent we should be about seeking the truth. Robert Sparrow has considered such issues in discussing the manufacture and marketing of robot ‘pets’, such as Sony’s doglike ‘AIBO’ toy and whatever more advanced devices may supersede (...) it. Though it is not his only concern, Sparrow particularly criticizes such robot pets for their illusory appearance of being living things. He fears that some individuals will subconsciously buy into the illusion, and come to sentimentalize interactions that fail to constitute genuine relationships. In replying to Sparrow, I emphasize that this would be continuous with much of the minor sentimentality that we already indulge in from day to day. Although a disposition to seek the truth is morally virtuous, the virtue concerned must allow for at least some categories of exceptions. Despite Sparrow’s concerns about robot pets (and robotics more generally), we should be lenient about familiar, relatively benign, kinds of self-indulgence in forming beliefs about reality. Sentimentality about robot pets seems to fall within these categories. Such limited self-indulgence can co-exist with ordinary honesty and commitment to truth. (shrink)
Poor Eliza -- Pax Americana : the case of Show boat -- National brands, national body : Imitation of life -- Uncle Sam needs a wife : citizenship and denegation -- Remembering love, forgetting everything else : Now, voyager -- "It's not the tragedies that kill us, it's the messes" : femininity, formalism, and Dorothy Parker -- The compulsion to repeat femininity : Landscape for a good woman and The life and loves of a she-devil.
"The writer discusses the concept of kitsch. Having reviewed a variety of approaches to kitsch, he posits an historical conception of it, connecting it to modernity and defining it as a coping-mechanism for modernity. He thus suggests that kitsch is best understood as a tool in the struggle against the particular stresses of the modern world and that it uses materials at hand, fashioning from them some sort of stability largely through projecting images of nature, stasis, and continuity. He discusses (...) the relation of kitsch to fine art, arguing that fine art also has as its primary function a counter-movement to modernity. He suggests that the main difference between fine art and kitsch is that fine art, as well as its emotional function, also involves a reception context that allows it to assume an intellectual task. Among the writer's conclusions, he finds that positing a stark or absolute contrast between kitsch and fine art is unjustifiable as both have the same roots and objectives." [WilsonWeb]. (shrink)
The present study describes the development of an ongoing and systematic index to measure consumers’ sentiments towards business ethical practices. The Business Ethics Index (BEI) is based on the well established measurements of consumer sentiments, namely the ICS (Index of Consumer Sentiment) and CBCCI (Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index). The BEI is comprised of 4 measurements representing the dimensions of “personal-vicarious” and “past-future.” Data from 503 telephone interviews were used to calculate a BEI of 107. This indicates an overall positive (...) consumer sentiment towards the ethical behavior of business. Future calculations of the BEI are planned which will allow for the estimation of the latent dynamics of trends in consumer sentiments toward American business ethics. (shrink)
Daoism has often been misunderstood as moral nihilism or anti-moralism, but the true Daoism indeed adopts a positive attitude towards morality. At the foundation of its universal sentiment is an affirmation of morality. Daoism takes all things as the starting point of its values in moral philosophy, and ziran 自然 (sponstaneously so) as the foundation of its philosophy with the universal commitment. Daoism hopes to use “ Dao to create the best environment for survival, and to fulfill individual responsibility for (...) all things in the world. This is a universal and open attitude towards values. The attraction of Daoist universal sentiment is that it takes ziran as its path, and “objectless desire, “unprincipled knowing, “non-coercive action as ways and means to ensure the transfer of the universal value to all things, while ensuring that they realize their true values and make contributions to the whole society. (shrink)
My task in this paper is to demonstrate, contra Nel Noddings, that Kantian ethics does not have an expectation of treating those closest to one the same as one would a stranger. In fact, Kantian ethics has what I would consider a robust statement of how it is that those around us come to figure prominently in the development of one's ethics. To push the point even further, I argue that Kantian ethics has an even stronger claim to treating those (...) closest to oneself as imperative than Noddings and sentiment-based ethical theory in general, proposes. (shrink)
Love does not necessarily benefit its object, and cost-free love may damage both object and subject. Our love of animals mobilises several distinct human concerns and should not be considered always as a virtue or always as a benefit to the animals themselves. We need to place this love in its full psychological, cultural, and moral context in order to assess what form it ought to take if animals are to benefit from it.
My main goal in this paper is to vindicate Humes belief that morality is exclusively a matter of sentiment, when it is apparent that the reflective or general perspective necessary to making a moral judgment requires reason. My solution to the supposed inconsistency is to show that reason is understood in two ways: in the preliminary understanding, reason is opposed to sentiment; in the final understanding, reason is actually reduced to sentiment, or explained away in favor of it. In this (...) final sense, when reason affects morality, it consists in bringing to the mind imaginary sensations and sentiments to which we react sympathetically. (shrink)
This article examines individuals’ lay understandings of moral responsibilities between adult kin members. Moral sentiments and practical judgments are important in shaping kinship responsibilities. The article discusses how judgments on requests of support can be reflexive and critical, taking into account many factors, including merit, social proximity, a history of personal encounters, overlapping commitments, and moral identity in the family. In so doing, we argue that moral responsibilities are contextual and relational. We also analyze how class, gender, and capabilities affect (...) how individuals imagine, expect and discuss care responsibilities. We also offer a critique of social capital theory of families, suggesting that their versions of morality are instrumental, alienated, and restrictive. Although Bourdieu’s concept of habitus overlaps with our proposed moral sentiments approach, the former does not adequately address moral concerns, commitments, and evaluations. The article aims to contribute to a better understanding of everyday morality by drawing upon different literatures in sociology, moral philosophy, postcommunism, and development studies. (shrink)
One of the interesting aspects of Dewey’s early educational thought is his apparent hostility toward children’s imaginative pursuits, yet the question of why this antipathy exists remains unanswered. As will become clear, Dewey’s hostility towards imaginative activities stemmed from a broad variety of concerns. In some of his earliest work, Dewey adopted a set of anti-Romantic criticisms and used these concerns to attack what one might call “runaway” imaginative and emotional tendencies. Then, in his early educational writings, these earlier concerns (...) were augmented by several other factors, including problematic trends in progressive education, new developments in psychology, and Dewey’s own educational aims. This analysis explores the roots of these criticisms, and explains how they culminate in the stance on the imagination that Dewey eventually outlined in the early educational writings. Notably, these findings have some important implications for certain prominent contemporary critics of progressivism. (shrink)
In this paper, I provide some evidence for the view that a common charge against those who adopt vegetarianism is that they would be sentimental. I argue that this charge is pressed frequently by those who adopt moral absolutism, a position that I reject, before exploring the question if vegetarianism might make sense. I discuss three concerns that might motivate those who adopt vegetarian diets, including a concern with the human health and environmental costs of some alternative diets, a concern (...) about inflicting pain on animals, and a concern with the killing of animals. While I argue that vegetarianism does not make sense in some situations, I hope that this paper shows that there are many good reasons why the adoption of vegetarian, and—even more so—vegan diets might be appropriate in some situations. In carving out this position, I focus primarily on the question whether a morally relevant distinction between the killing of plants and the killing of animals should be made. I engage primarily with the views of two of the most prominent authors on this issue, arguing that neither Peter Singer nor Tom Regan provide a satisfactory account on the ethics of killing nonhuman organisms. Two views are challenged in particular, the view that relatively simple animals such as molluscs, as well as plants, lack awareness, and the view that animals without a preference to continue living stand to lose little or nothing by being killed. I provide some evidence to support the claim that many share my view that it is more problematic to kill animals than to kill plants, before analyzing why some suppress the negative feelings they associate with killing animals. By exploring these issues I hope to shed some light on the issue of whether the feelings of those who adopt vegetarianism are sentimental or make sense, and to stimulate reflection amongst those with an interest in food ethics. (shrink)
So-called evolutionary error theorists, such as Michael Ruse and Richard Joyce, have argued that naturalistic accounts of the moral sentiments lead us to adopt an error theory approach to morality. Roughly, the argument is that an appreciation of the etiology of those sentiments undermines any reason to think that they track moral truth and, furthermore, undermines any reason to think that moral truth actually exists. I argue that this approach offers us a false dichotomy between error theory and some form (...) of moral realism. While accepting the presuppositions of the evolutionary error theorist, I argue that contract-based approaches to morality can be sensitive to those presuppositions while still vindicating morality. Invoking Stephen Darwall’s distinction between contractualism and contractarianism, I go on to offer an evolutionary-based contractarianism. (shrink)
R. Jay Wallace argues in this book that moral accountability hinges on questions of fairness: When is it fair to hold people morally responsible for what they do? Would it be fair to do so even in a deterministic world? To answer these questions, we need to understand what we are doing when we hold people morally responsible, a stance that Wallace connects with a central class of moral sentiments, those of resentment, indignation, and guilt. To hold someone responsible, he (...) argues, is to be subject to these reactive emotions in one's dealings with that person. Developing this theme with unusual sophistication, he offers a new interpretation of the reactive emotions and traces their role in our practices of blame and moral sanction. With this account in place, Wallace advances a powerful and sustained argument against the common view that accountability requires freedom of will. Instead, he maintains, the fairness of holding people responsible depends on their rational competence: the power to grasp moral reasons and to control their behavior accordingly. He shows how these forms of rational competence are compatible with determinism. At the same time, giving serious consideration to incompatibilist concerns, Wallace develops a compelling diagnosis of the common assumption that freedom is necessary for responsibility. Rigorously argued, eminently readable, this book touches on issues of broad concern to philosophers, legal theorists, political scientists, and anyone with an interest in the nature and limits of responsibility. (shrink)
There is considerable evidence that Hume thinks the moral sentiments (approval and disapproval) move us to action, at least in some circumstances. For one thing, he relies on the premise that moral evaluations move us to action to argue that moral evaluations are not derived from reason alone, in his most famous anti-rationalist argument. Presumably, this capacity of moral evaluations can be explained by the fact that (as Hume sees it) such evaluations are, or are the product of, moral sentiments. (...) But this raises three interconnected interpretive questions. First, on Hume's account, much virtuous behavior is traceable to motives other than the sentiments of approval and disapproval; so when and how do the moral .. (shrink)
Sentimental Rules is an ambitious and highly interdisciplinary work, which proposes and defends a new theory about the nature and evolution of moral judgment. In it, philosopher Shaun Nichols develops the theory that emotions play a critical role in both the psychological and the cultural underpinnings of basic moral judgment. Nichols argues that our norms prohibiting the harming of others are fundamentally associated with our emotional responses to those harms, and that such 'sentimental rules' enjoy an advantage in cultural evolution, (...) which partly explains the success of certain moral norms. This has sweeping and exciting implications for philosophical ethics. Nichols builds on an explosion of recent intriguing experimental work in psychology on our capacity for moral judgment and shows how this empirical work has broad import for enduring philosophical problems. The result is an account that illuminates fundamental questions about the character of moral emotions and the role of sentiment and reason in how we make our moral judgments. This work should appeal widely across philosophy and the other disciplines that comprise cognitive science. (shrink)
One of the more striking aspects of Adam Smith's moral theory is the degree to which it depends on and appeals to aesthetic norms. By considering what Smith says about judgments of propriety – the foundational type of judgment in his system – and by tying what he says in The Theory of Moral Sentiments to certain of his other writings, I argue that Smith ultimately defends an aesthetic morality. Among the challenges that any aesthetic morality faces is that it (...) seems to entail moral relativism. This problem is magnified by Smith's reliance on the judgments of the impartial spectator, which also seems to make his theory more vulnerable to a Euthyphro-type objection. I suggest that Smith can potentially get around these problems, given his presumption of aesthetic naturalism. While there is certainly some variation in our aesthetic judgments, Smith claims that we naturally find certain actions and sentiments odious, while others we find agreeable. The reason, he argues, is that any society that judged otherwise would not survive. (shrink)
In this book, Russell examines Hume's notion of free will and moral responsibility. It is widely held that Hume presents us with a classic statement of a compatibilist position--that freedom and responsibility can be reconciled with causation and, indeed, actually require it. Russell argues that this is a distortion of Hume's view, because it overlooks the crucial role of moral sentiment in Hume's picture of human nature. Hume was concerned to describe the regular mechanisms which generate moral sentiments such as (...) responsibility, and Russell argues that his conception of free will must be interprted within this naturalistic framework. He goes on to discuss Hume's views about the nature and character of moral sentiment; the extent to which we have control over our moral character; and the justification of punishment. Throughout, Russell argues that the naturalistic avenue of interpretation of Hume's thought, far from draining it of its contemporary interest and significance, reveals it to be of great relevance to the ongoing contemporary debate. (shrink)
I analyse the concept of sentimental value, with a view to identifying its relations with the notions of intrinsic, final, extrinsic and instrumental value. The analysis explores issues arising in the understanding of an object as sentimentally valuable, and reveals a serious tension in the common sense extrinsic conception of sentimental value.
Such is the effect of the good or bad consequences of actions upon the sentiments both of the person who performs them, and of others; and thus, Fortune, which governs the world, has some influence where we should be least willing to allow her any, and directs in some measure the sentiments of mankind, with regard to the character and conduct both of themselves and others.
“Sentiment” is a term of art, intended to refer to object-directed, irruptive states, that occur in relatively transient bouts involving positive or negative affect, and that typically involve a distinctive motivational profile. Not all the states normally called “emotions” are sentiments in the sense just characterized. And all the terms for sentiments are sometimes used in English to refer to longer lasting attitudes. But this discussion is concerned with boutish affective states, not standing attitudes. That poses some challenges that will (...) be my focus here. Rational sentimentalism is a cousin of fitting attitude theories of value, but other fitting attitude theories appeal to attitudes that are widely assumed to be governable by certain kinds of judgments. The basic challenge is this: are these boutish sentiments the sorts of things that we can and do regulate in the ways that are required for treating ‘shameful’, ‘funny’, ‘disgusting’ and the like as values? In what follows I briefly sketch some necessary conditions on treating something as a value, from which it emerges that treating sentimental values as values requires regulating the sentiments for fittingness. The rest of the paper is devoted to two ways of understanding how such regulation might work. I argue first that sentiments are susceptible to regulation by evaluative judgment, though perhaps not in quite the same way that philosophers have thought “judgment-sensitive attitudes” are regulated by judgment. I then suggest more tentatively that sentiments are also susceptible to regulation for fittingness in a different way: by educating sensibilities. (shrink)
Despite its apparent ubiquity, philosophers have not talked much about sentimental value. One exception is Anthony Hatzimoysis (The Philosophical Quarterly 53:373–379, 2003). Those who wish to take sentimental value seriously are likely to make use of Christine Korsgaard’s ideas on two distinctions in value. In this paper I show that Hatzimoysis has misrendered Korsgaard’s insight in his discussion of sentimental value. I begin by briefly summarising Korsgaard’s idea before showing how Hatzimoysis’ treatment of it is mistaken.