Michael Slote

in Moral Sentimentalism

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780195391442
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199866250 | DOI:

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This chapter focuses on the notion/phenomenon of empathy. It clarifies what we nowadays mean when we talk about empathy, but it also explains how the recent literature of psychology bears on moral sentimentalism. In particular, it shows how that literature supports the conclusion that empathy plays a crucial role in developing and sustaining genuinely altruistic, caring motivation. This chapter also points out the ways in which the moral distinctions we commonsensically make generally correspond to normal differences in empathic responsiveness. This moves us in the direction of the central idea that empathy plays a role in our understanding, and in the semantics, of moral claims.

Keywords: care ethics; empathy; Hoffman; Hume; metaethics; moral education; morality; normative ethics; obligation; sentimentalism

Chapter.  6934 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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