Moral sentimentalism and moral psychology

In David Copp (ed.), The Oxford handbook of ethical theory. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 219--239 (2006)
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Moral sentimentalism holds that moral sentiment is the source of moral judgment and moral motivation. It contrasts with rationalism, which puts reason in place of sentiment. Sentimentalism goes hand in hand with a virtue theoretic approach in normative ethics. In the version of sentimentalism defended here, the chief moral sentiment is empathic concern. The chaper argues that moral goodness consists in empathic concern for others. Moreover, it argues that the reference of moral terms is fixed by actual empathic reactions, and not by reactions to merely possible circumstances.



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Michael Slote
University of Miami

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