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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
As one of the most important ethicists to emerge since the Second World War, Alan Gewirth continues to influence philosophical debates concerning morality. In this ground-breaking book, Gewirth's neo-Kantianism, and the communitarian problems discussed, form a dialogue on the foundation of moral theory. Themes of agent-centered constraints, the formal structure of theories, and the relationship between freedom and duty are examined along with such new perspectives as feminism, the Stoics, and Sartre. Gewirth offers a picture of the philosopher's theory and (...) its applications, providing a richer, more complete critical assessement than any which has occurred to date. (shrink)
Justin D'Arms says that moral disapproval is more closely tied to anger than to the “empathic chill” effect I emphasized in Moral Sentimentalism, but I argue that anger is in several ways inappropriate or unsatisfactory as a basis for understanding disapproval. I go on to explain briefly why I think we need not share D'Arms's worries about the possibility of nonveridical empathy but then focus on what he says about the reference-fixing theory of moral terminology defended in Moral Sentimentalism. I (...) explain why I think his interpretations of my view—both at the Spindel Conference and subsequently—misunderstand the (Kripkean) character of that view. My reply to Lori Watson questions whether her criticisms of Moral Sentimentalism's account of morality are sufficiently sensitive to the self−other asymmetry that typifies so much of ordinary moral thinking. (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)
Confucian thinkers seem to have had something like our present concept of empathy long before that notion was self-consciously available in the West. Wang Yang-Mingâs talk of forming one body with others and similar ideas in the writings of Cheng Hao and, much earlier, of Mengzi make it clear that the Confucian traditions not only had the idea of empathy but saw its essential relation to phenomena like compassion, benevolence, and sympathy that are constitutive of the altruistic side of morality. (...) Nowadays, there is increasing interest among Western psychologists and philosophers in the phenomenon of empathy, and it would be lovely and welcome if, having originated these ideas, Chinese philosophers would now take up and help develop what has recently been said and done about empathy, and its relation to altruism, in the West. (shrink)
Are there nonexistent things? What is the nature of informative identity statements? Are the notions of essential property and of essence intelligible, and, if so, how are they to be understood? Are individual things material substances or clusters of qualities? Can the account of the unity of a complex entity avoid vicious infinite regresses? These questions have attracted widespread attention among philosophers recently, as evidenced by a proliferation of articles in the leading philosophical journals. In Being Qua Being they receive (...) systematic, unified treatment, grounded in an account of the nature of the application to the world of our conceptual apparatus. A central thesis of the book is that the topic of identity is primary, and that existence and predication, both essential and accidental, are to be understood in terms of identity. (shrink)