Imaginative Moral Development

Journal of Value Inquiry 51 (2):251-262 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The picture of moral development defended by followers of Aristotle takes moral cultivation to be like playing a harp; one gets to be good by actually spending time playing a real instrument. On this view, we cultivate a virtue by doing the actions associated with that virtue. I argue that this picture is inadequate and must be supplemented by imaginative techniques. One can, and sometimes must, cultivate virtue without actually performing the associated actions. Drawing on strands in Buddhist philosophy, I explain several methods of moral development that rely on imagination and visualization rather than overt action. These techniques are essential in cases where cultivating virtue the way one practices the harp is impossible. In particular, I focus on single-event virtues, first-time virtuous acts, and morally dangerous situations.

Similar books and articles

Morality & Imagination.Yi-fu Tuan - 1989 - University of Wisconsin Press.
Imaginative Content, Design-Assumptions and Immersion.Alon Chasid - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):259-272.
Individual Moral Development and Moral Progress.Anders Schinkel & Doret J. Ruyter - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (1):121-136.
Individual Moral Development and Moral Progress.Anders Schinkel & Doret J. de Ruyter - 2017 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 20 (1):121-136.
Kant and the Power of Imagination.Jane Kneller - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Imaginative resistance without conflict.Anna Mahtani - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):415-429.
Towards an intuitionist account of moral development.Karen Bartsch & Jennifer Cole Wright - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):546-547.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Desire.Amy Kind - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):421-439.
Kant, History, and the Idea of Moral Development.Pauline Kleingeld - 1999 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1):59-80.


Added to PP

388 (#40,210)

6 months
93 (#24,786)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Nicolas Bommarito
Simon Fraser University

References found in this work

Ethics with Aristotle.Sarah Broadie - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on learning to be good.Myles F. Burnyeat - 1980 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 69--92.
Practical wisdom: A mundane account.Rosalind Hursthouse - 2006 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 106 (3):283–307.

View all 7 references / Add more references