Moral Sense and Sentimentalism

Julia Driver

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Ethics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199545971
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Moral Sense and Sentimentalism

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This chapter focuses on sentimentalism – the view that morality is based on sentiment – in particular, the sentiment of sympathy. Sentimentalism was historically articulated in opposition to two positions: Hobbesian egoism, in which morality is based on self-interest; and Moral Rationalism, which held that morality is based on reason alone. The Sentimentalists challenged both views, arguing that there is more to what motivates human beings than simple self-interest and that reason alone is insufficient to motivate our actions, including our moral actions. The philosophies of Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Third Earl of Shaftesbury, Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Adam Smith are considered. The discussion then turns to sympathy, moral realism, moral virtue, and psychological realism.

Keywords: Sentimentalists; morality; sympathy; moral realism; moral virtue; psychological realism; Anthony Ashley Cooper; Francis Hutcheson; David Hume; Adam Smith

Article.  9577 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Moral Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind

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