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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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.
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)
Feminists have argued that autonomous thought and decision-making are attained through respectful parenting and are blighted or destroyed when the parenting is disrespectful or abusive. However, it can be argued that young children are already capable of thinking and deciding things for themselves, so when sexist or abusive parenting leads to an adult incapable of such autonomy, the parenting or other social influences have destroyed what was originally there. It turns out, too, that the thinking and deciding sides of autonomy (...) are actually inseparable aspects of one and the same personal trait/virtue, and it can be shown that the other major human virtues—and human rationality as a whole—also have this dual aspect. We can go on to see that this duality is best interpreted in terms of the indissoluble complementarity of yin 陰 and yang 陽. (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)
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.
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)
Virginia Held, best known for her landmark book Rights and Goods, has made an indelible mark on the fields of ethics, feminist philosophy, and social and political thought. Her impact on a generation of feminist thinkers is unrivaled and she has been at the forfront of discussions about the way in which an ethic of care can affect social and political matters. These new essays by leading contemporary philosophers range over all of these areas. While each stands alone, the essays (...) together demonstrate the lasting value of Held's work to the field. Includes an afterword by Held. (shrink)
When Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings, and other ethicists of caring draw the contrast between supposedly masculine and supposedly feminine moral thinking, they put such things as justice, autonomy, and rights together under the first rubric and such things as caring, responsibility for others, and connection together under the second. This division naturally leaves caring ethicists with the issue of how to deal with topics such as justice, autonomy, and rights, but it also leaves defenders of more traditional moral theories with (...) the problem of how to treat the sorts of issues that ethicists of caring raise. (shrink)
In The Methods of Ethics, Sidgwick took seriously egoism, utilitarianism, and commonsense morality. Virtue ethics was treated as part of commonsense morality. Three Methods, reflecting recent tastes, considers Kant, consequentialism, and virtue ethics. Oddly, it does not reflect the major development since Sidgwick—the revival of contractualism.
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)
The theory of important criteria -- Value judgments and the theory of important criteria -- The rationality of aesthetic value judgments -- Inapplicable concepts -- Morality and ignorance -- Time in counterfactuals -- Assertion and belief -- Understanding free will -- Selective necessity and the free-will problem -- Is virtue possible? -- Morality not a system of imperatives -- Review of Alvin Plantinga's God and other minds -- Utilitarianism, moral dilemmas, and moral cost -- Object utilitarianism -- Utilitarian virtue -- (...) Moderation, rationality, and virtue -- Rational dilemmas and rational supererogation -- Ethics naturalized -- Nietzsche and virtue ethics -- Caring versus the philosophers -- Global caring, global justice -- Empathy and objectivity -- In place of moral reasoning -- Some thoughts for the future. (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)
Julia Driver's Uneasy Virtue offers a theory of virtue and the virtues without being an instance of virtue ethics. It presents a consequentialist challenge to recent virtue ethics, but its positive views – and especially its interesting examples – have great significance in their own right. Driver's defence of ‘virtues of ignorance’ has force despite all the challenges to it that have been mounted over the years. But there are also examples differing from those Driver has mentioned that favour the (...) idea of such virtues. Perhaps certain virtues of religious faith and the virtue necessary for dealing as best one can with moral dilemmas both require ignorance. However, some of the examples Driver does discuss raise the question whether virtue status is based solely on consequences, rather than perhaps having (in addition) a motivational component. (shrink)
Two of our greatest educational theorists, John Dewey and Nel Noddings, have been reluctant to admit that some students are simply more talented than others. This was no doubt due to their feeling that such an admission was inconsistent with democratic concern for everyone. But there really is such a thing as superior talent; and the present book explains how that admission is compatible with our ideals of caring. Traditionalists confident that some disciplines are more important than others haven’t worried (...) that that way of putting things threatens to make those who are excluded feel quite bad about themselves. But an ethics of care can show us how to make these differences much less hurtful and more morally acceptable than anything that has been proposed by traditionalists. So the present book offers a middle way between the denial of the reality of superior talents and an insensitive insistence on that reality. It argues that care ethics gives us a way to do this, and it bases that claim largely on the promise of such an ethics for moral education in schools and in homes. It is argued on psychological grounds that caring can only take place on the basis of empathy for others, and the book shows in great detail how empathy can be encouraged or develop in school and home contexts. Other approaches to moral education—like Kantian cognitive-developmentalism and Aristotelian character education—can’t account for moral _motivation_ in the way that an emphasis on the development of empathy allows. And in the end, it is only students educated via care ethics who will be sensitive to one another in a way that largely undercuts the negative psychological impact of educational institutions and practices that acknowledge the greater talents or creativity that some students have. (shrink)
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. (shrink)