Morals from Motives develops a virtue ethics inspired more by Hume and Hutcheson's moral sentimentalism than by recently-influential Aristotelianism. It argues that a reconfigured and expanded "morality of caring" can offer a general account of right and wrong action as well as social justice. Expanding the frontiers of ethics, it goes on to show how a motive-based "pure" virtue theory can also help us to understand the nature of human well-being and practical reason.
Eminent moral philosopher Michael Slote argues that care ethics presents an important challenge to other ethical traditions and that a philosophically developed care ethics should, and can, offer its own comprehensive view of the whole of morality. Taking inspiration from British moral sentimentalism and drawing on recent psychological literature on empathy, he shows that the use of that notion allows care ethics to develop its own sentimentalist account of respect, autonomy, social justice, and deontology. Furthermore, he argues that care ethics (...) gives a more persuasive account of these topics than theories offered by contemporary Kantian liberalism. The most philosophically rich and challenging exploration of the theory and practice of care to date, _The Ethics of Care and Empathy_ also shows the manifold connections that can be drawn between philosophical issues and leading ideas in the fields of psychology, education, and women's studies. (shrink)
There has been a good deal of interest in moral sentimentalism in recent years, but most of that interest has been exclusively either in meta-ethical questions or in normative issues about caring or benevolence. The present book seeks to offer a systematically unified picture of both sorts of topics by making central use of the notion of empathy. The hope is that such an approach will give sentimentalism a "second chance" against the ethical rationalism that has typically dominated the landscape (...) of ethical theory. (shrink)
Most moral philosophers who have recently expressed sympathy with feminist or ‘care-based’ perspectives on ethical theory have thought that such perspectives can make valuable contributions to more comprehensive ethical theories. Few have thought that an ethics of care can offer a complete normative theory. However, Michael Slote is one of the ambitious few. In his recent book, The Ethics of Care and Empathy, he seeks to show that a care-based perspective can do a lot of service in first-order moral and (...) political theory as well as in metaethics. Here is a quick overview of the book's content: In Chapter 1, Slote explicates the notion of empathy that is central in his ethics of care, which he locates within the sentimentalist paradigm, stemming from philosophers such as Hume and Hutcheson. Slote's account of empathy and moral development draws substantially on work by the psychologist Martin Hoffman. Chapter 2 discusses care ethics and our obligation to help others, including both the near and the distant needy. Chapter 3 aims to show how the notion of empathy can further the case for deontology in ethics. Chapters 4 through 6 discuss the relation of care ethics to pivotal issues in political philosophy, such as autonomy, liberalism, social justice and rights. Slote maintains that autonomy …. (shrink)
In this book, Slote offers the first full-scale foundational account of virtue ethics to have appeared since the recent revival of interest in the ethics of virtue. Slote advocates a particular form of such ethics for its intuitive and structural advantages over Kantianism, utilitarianism, and common-sense morality, and he argues that the problems of other views can be avoided and a contemporary plausible version of virtue ethics achieved only by abandoning specifically moral concepts for general aretaic notions like admirability and (...) virtue. Although this study is not bound by particular Aristotelian doctrines, it places an Aristotelian emphasis on both self-benefiting and other-benefiting virtues. Slote criticizes Kantian and common-sense morality for internal incoherencies and for downgrading the moral individual and her well-being in some previously unnoticed ways. By contrast, this book defends a distinctive, intuitive, and symmetric ethical principle according to which we should balance self-concern with concern for others, but it also concludes that there is, contrary to utilitarianism, no single basis for status as a virtue nor any simple relation between the virtues and human well-being. (shrink)
In a way reminiscent of Hume's approach in the Treatise, a reviving moral sentimentalism can use the notion of empathy to ground both its normative account of moral obligation and its metaethical account of moral language. A virtuous person is empathically caring about others and expresses such feeling/motivation in her actions. But the judgment that something is right or good is also based in empathy, and the sentimentalist can espouse a form of moral realism by making use of a Kripkean (...) reference-fixer theory of the role of feelings of approval and disapproval in moral judgment. (shrink)
The aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editors of each volume contribute an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. -/- This volume brings together much of the strongest (...) and most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, it includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some later criticisms of the revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. This collection should appeal not only to students and others seeking a wider knowledge of contemporary developments in moral philosophy, but to professional philosophers as well. (shrink)
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some later criticisms of the (...) revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. (shrink)
During the past decade ethical theory has been in a lively state of development, and three basic approaches to ethics - Kantian ethics, consequentialism, and virtue ethics - have assumed positions of particular prominence.
This volume presents the fruits of an extended dialogue among American and Chinese philosophers concerning the relations between virtue ethics and the Confucian tradition. Based on recent advances in English-language scholarship on and translation of Confucian philosophy, the book demonstrates that cross-tradition stimulus, challenge, and learning are now eminently possible. Anyone interested in the role of virtue in contemporary moral philosophy, in Chinese thought, or in the future possibilities for cross-tradition philosophizing will find much to engage with in the twenty (...) essays collected here. (shrink)
This new book by Michael Slote argues that Western philosophy on the whole has overemphasized rational control and autonomy at the expense of the important countervailing value and virtue of receptivity. Recently the ideas of caring and empathy have received a great deal of philosophical and public attention, but both these notions rest on the deeper and broader value of receptivity, and in From Enlightenment to Receptivity, Slote seeks to show that we need to focus more on receptivity if we (...) are to attain a more balanced sense and understanding of what is important to us. -/- Beginning with a critique of Enlightenment thinking that calls into question its denial of any central role to considerations of emotion and empathy, he goes on to show how a greater emphasis on these factors and on the receptivity that underlies them can give us a more realistic, balanced, and sensitive understanding of our core ethical and epistemological values. This means rejecting post-modernism's blanket rejection of reason and of compelling real values and recognizing, rather, that receptivity should play a major role in how we lead our lives as individuals, in how we relate to nature, in how we acquire knowledge about the world, and in how we relate morally and politically with others. (shrink)
Empathy has become a hot topic in philosophy and more generally, but its many uses haven’t yet been recognized. Empathy has epistemological applications beyond its ability to put us directly in contact with the minds of others, and its role in ethics has been underestimated: it can, for example, help the present-day sentimentalist make sense of Francis Hutcheson’s idea of a moral sense. Most notably, perhaps, empathy also plays an important role in speech acts that speech act theorists have completely (...) ignored: for example, felicitous assertion and questioning both depend on the empathic conveying of emotion. (shrink)
Introduction -- Feminism and partial values -- The impossibility of perfection -- Alternative views -- Perfection, moral dilemmas, and moral cost -- Connections with care ethics and romanticism -- Relational profiles of goods and virtues -- Conclusion -- Appendix. Men's philosophy, women's philosophy.
The rise of the phenomenon of virtue ethics in recent years has increased at a rapid pace. Such an explosion carries with it a number of great possibilities, as well as risks. This volume has been written to contribute a multi-faceted perspective to the current conversation about virtue. Among many other thought-provoking questions, the collection addresses the following: What are the virtues, and how are they enumerated? What are the internal problems among ethicists, and what are the objections and replies (...) to contemporary virtue ethics? Additionally, the practical implications following from the answers to these questions are discussed in new and fascinating research. Fundamental concepts such as teleology and eudaimonism are addressed from both a historical and dialectical approach. This tome will contribute not only to providing further clarity to the current horizons in virtue ethics, but also to the practical conclusion following from the study: to challenge the reader toward a greater pursuit of the virtuous life. (shrink)
Agent-based virtue ethics has a long history, but is in a minority position in present-day virtue ethics. It holds that right and wrong action can be fully understood in terms of agential character traits and/or motives. Agent-basing can occur in a Nietzschean version or a moral sentimentalist version, but the latter is more promising because Nietzsche ignores the basic human tendency toward sympathy with others. An agent-based virtue ethics in the sentimentalist mode takes empathy as its central analytic tool and (...) seeks to show that empathy can provide the basis for understanding respect for others, social justice, reasons for action, and even deontology. It is superior to utilitarianism because it can account for our considered moral judgments much more adequately than utilitarianism can. It is superior to Aristotelianism because even recent Aristotelians haven’t been able to theorize the important notion of respect for others. It is superior to Kantianism because it can handle problematic political-legal cases in a more intuitive way than the latter can. Moreover, a modernized sentimentalism can provide for full moral objectivity using the idea of reference fixing. (shrink)
Virtue ethics is on the move both in Anglo-American philosophy and in the rest of the world. This volume uniquely emphasizes non-Western varieties of virtue ethics at the same time that it includes work in the many different fields or areas of philosophy where virtue ethics has recently spread its wings. Just as significantly, several chapters make comparisons between virtue ethics and other ways of approaching ethics or political philosophy or show how virtue ethics can be applied to "real world" (...) problems. (shrink)
Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice, which appeared in 1982, argued that men tend to conceive morality in terms of rights, justice, and autonomy, whereas women more frequently think in terms of caring, responsibility, and interrelation with others. At about the same time, Nel Noddings in Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education sought to articulate and defend in its own right a “feminine” morality centered specifically around the ideal of caring. Since then, there has been a heated (...) debate about the reality of the distinction Gilligan drew and about its potential implications for ethical theory. Discussions of the morality of caring have questioned, in particular, whether any such morality can really provide a total framework for moral thought and action. For in order to deal with our obligations to people we are not acquainted with and address large-scale issues of social morality, any morality of caring seems to require supplementation by typically “masculine” thinking in terms of rights and justice, with the result that caring turns out to be but one part of morality, rather than anything women, or more enlightened men, could find attractive as a total and self-sufficient way of approaching ethical issues. (shrink)
Moral Self-Cultivation plays an important, even a central role, in the Confucian philosophical tradition, but philosophers in the West, most notably Aristotle and Kant, also hold that moral self-cultivation or self-shaping is possible and morally imperative. This paper argues that these traditions are psychologically unrealistic in what they say about the possibilities of moral self-cultivation. We cannot shape ourselves in the substantial and overall ways that Confucianism, Aristotle, and Kant say we can, and our best psychological data on moral education (...) and development indicate strongly that these phenomena depend crucially on the intervention of others and, more generally, on external factors individuals don’t control. (shrink)
In the present paper I wish to argue that psychological egoism may well have a basis in the empirical facts of human psychology. Certain contemporary learning theorists, e.g., Hull and Skinner, have put forward behavioristic theories of the origin and functioning of human motives which posit a certain number of basically "selfish, " unlearned primary drives or motives (like hunger, thirst, sleep, elimination, and sex), explain all other, higher-order, drives or motives as derived genetically from the primary ones via certain (...) "laws of reinforcement," and, further, deny the "functional autonomy" of those higher-order drives or motive. Now it is a hotly debated issue in contemporary Learning Theory whether any theory such as we have described briefly above could adequately explain adult human behavior. I shall, however, argue only that a theory of the above kind may well be true, and that from such a theory, fortified only by one additional psychological premise, the truth of egoism (non-altruism) logically follows. I hope to show, thereby, that the question of psychological egoism is still an open empirical issue, however fallacious be the philosophical arguments for it. (shrink)
Michael Slote argues that emotion is involved in all human thought and action on conceptual grounds, rather than merely being causally connected with other aspects of the mind. Such a sentimentalist view of the mind provides solutions to important problems about belief and action that other approaches fail to address.
The East Asian notion of a heart-mind is arguably more accurate to our psychology than the Western term “mind” and its equivalents are: the latter term implies the possibility of psychological functioning in the absence of all emotion, and it can be shown that that is impossible. But then it turns out that we can update the traditional Chinese notions of yin 陰 and yang 陽 in such a way as to help us philosophically explain how our functioning psychology involves (...) emotion and why any possible psychology has to rest on such a basis. Yin-yang is the essence of heart-mind, and heart-mind is essential to any functioning psychology. (shrink)