EMPATHY, APPROVAL, AND DISAPPROVAL IN MORAL SENTIMENTALISM

Authors


  • Justin D'Arms is Professor of Philosophy at Ohio State University. He has published in various philosophical journals and edited collections, on topics in metaethics, moral psychology, moral theory, and the philosophy of emotion. His article “Empathy and Evaluative Inquiry” (2000) argues for a distinctive role for emotional contagion in the epistemology of value.

abstract

This discussion explores the moral psychology and metaethics of Michael Slote's Moral Sentimentalism. I argue that his account of empathy has an important lacuna, because the sense in which an empathizer feels the same feeling that his target feels requires explanation, and the most promising candidates are unavailable to Slote. I then argue that the (highly original) theory of moral approval and disapproval that Slote develops in his book is implausible, both phenomenologically and for the role it accords to empathy. Finally, I suggest that these problems in moral psychology undermine Slote's metaethical argument for identifying rightness and wrongness with agential warmth and coldness in action.

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