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Moral Sentimentalism$
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Michael Slote

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195391442

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195391442.001.0001

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Cement of the Moral Universe

(p.13) 1 Empathy
Moral Sentimentalism

Michael Slote (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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