On W. P. Ker’s “Imagination and Judgment”

Ethics 125 (1):232-234, (2014)

Authors
Mavis Biss
Loyola University Maryland
Abstract
In “Imagination and Judgment” W.P. Ker argues, contrary to the “ordinary teaching” of the moralists of his day, that we have good reason to consider imagination as “the highest form of practical wisdom or prudence” (475). Modes of imaginative thought that direct human passion towards morally valuable ends are best understood as a form of reason or an intellectual virtue, as opposed to a dangerous distraction from reality and threat to good judgment. Ker’s piece remains of interest partly because it anticipates some of the most important contributions to moral theory made by philosophers, most notably Iris Murdoch and Martha Nussbaum, who have developed conceptions of ‘moral imagination’ in more recent decades. More significantly, reflecting on Ker’s catalogue of the positive and direct roles played by imagination in moral reasoning reveals that there is further work to be done in clarifying the concept of imagination in relation to practical reason.
Keywords moral imagination  practical reason
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DOI 10.1086/677015
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