Tact: Sense, sensitivity, and virtue

Abstract
The concept of tact has so far received only little theoretical attention. The present article suggests three levels on which the idea of tact may be approached: (1) The epistemological problem: the etymology of the term ?tact? is taken seriously, namely its relation to the sense of touch and tactility. An analysis of the position of touch in the ranking of the five senses according to various parameters is shown to be highly relevant to the understanding of the idea of tact. (2) The logical problem: tact is described as a skill which cannot be exhausted in the knowledge of principles or general rules. Like ?judgment? it is concerned with the particular, with sensitivity (analogical to that of the sense of touch) to the uniqueness of a human situation. (3) The ethical problem: tact is shown to lie between ethics and etiquette, that is to say it is more than just a rule of politeness or good manners, but it is ?less? than a fully fledged moral duty or principle. Its position between the obligatory and the merely conventional opens the way to characterize it as supererogatory
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DOI 10.1080/00201749508602387
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References found in this work BETA

Supererogation: Its Status in Ethical Theory.David Heyd - 1982 - Cambridge University Press.
The Sense of Touch.Brian O'Shaughnessy - 1989 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (1):37 – 58.
Empathy and Sympathy as Tactile Encounter.Edith Wyschogrod - 1981 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (1):25-44.

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Citations of this work BETA

Flattery.David Heyd - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 77 (3):685-704.

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