Moral Sensitivity

Philosophy 59 (227):3 - 19 (1984)
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Abstract

Most contemporary philosophers accept Kant's view1 that the central question of morality is what ought I to do. This gives choice a pivotal role, for choice is what one faces when the question has to be answered. Since what is chosen is an action, this view of morality—I shall call it the current view —is action-orientated. And since actions are directed towards people, the current view stresses altruism and universalizability. Morality is thus supposed to be activist and social. It is a sensible, public-spirited enterprise in which responsible members of society will participate because they realize that reason requires it. Kantians, Utilitarians, Contractarians, and Marxists disagree, of course, about the nature of the relation between reason and morality. But they agree that choice intending to lead to action contributing to the welfare of others is the central concern of morality

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John Kekes
Union College

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