Normative ethics, conversion, and pictures as tools of moral persuasion

Sarah McGrath

in Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Volume 1

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693269
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732058 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies In Normative Ethics

Normative ethics, conversion, and pictures as tools of moral persuasion

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In attempting to influence the moral views of others, activists sometimes employ pictures as tools of moral persuasion. In such cases, a viewer is confronted with an actual instance of the practice whose morality is at issue and invited to draw a general moral conclusion in response. This paper explores some of the philosophical issues that arise in connection with the use of pictures as tools of moral persuasion, with special attention to the roles of acquaintance and conversion in the moral domain. Against concerns that relying on pictures will tend to bias or distort one’s moral judgment, the paper offers a qualified defense of the use of pictures. It then considers some implications for (i) the characterization of wide reflective equilibrium, (ii) the concept of a moral expert, and (iii) our attitudes towards our moral convictions.

Keywords: pictures; moral persuasion; acquaintance; conversion; bias; reflective equilibrium; moral expert; moral epistemology; moral knowledge

Chapter.  11088 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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