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The Evil WithinWhy We Need Moral Philosophy$
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Diane Jeske

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190685379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190685379.001.0001

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The Moral of Mr. Jefferson’s Story

The Moral of Mr. Jefferson’s Story

Chapter:
(p.224) 7 The Moral of Mr. Jefferson’s Story
Source:
The Evil Within
Author(s):

Diane Jeske

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190685379.003.0007

In examining the case of Thomas Jefferson, the author shows how the impediments to good moral deliberation—cultural pressures and norms, the complexity of consequences, emotions, and self-deception—played a role in his thinking about slavery. The chapter also shows how these impediments play a role in our own thinking about our treatment of nonhuman animals and how the tools of moral philosophy can serve as a way of dealing with those impediments. We have to learn how to balance our own interests against those of others, and how to balance the interests of loved ones against the interests of strangers. We cannot leave moral action to the mercy of conscience, if we mean by conscience whatever we happen to think is the right thing to do. Employing the tools of moral philosophy in moral education can help us to raise good moral deliberators and, hopefully, good moral agents.

Keywords:   Thomas Jefferson, nonhuman animal, moral philosophy, moral education, special obligation, conscience, slavery

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