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Moral Judgment, Action and Emotion

  • Bernard Harrison (a1)

What makes us responsive, however occasionally, to moral demands? Why do people sometimes own up, go off to fight unwillingly in what they consider to be just wars, refrain from stealing a march on friends, and so on, even when they could by doing otherwise reap advantages far outweighing, in the scales of ordinary prudential rationality, any consequent disadvantage? Why has morality such a hold over us?

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1 David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, III, ii, 2.

2 J. L. Mackie, Hume' Moral Theory (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), 87-88, 149.

3 John McDowell, ‘Are Moral Requirements Hypothetical Imperatives?’, Aristotelian Society Suppl. Vol. 52 (1978), 19.

4 Bernard Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, Irwin Primer (ed.) (New York: Capricorn Books, 1962), 50.

5 Cf. David Wiggins, ‘Truth, Invention and the Meaning of Life’, Proceedings of the British Academy, LXII (1976), 343f.

6 Charles Stevenson, Ethics and Language (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944), 60.

7 David K. Lewis, Convention (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969), 78-79.

8 Cf. Julius Kovesi, Moral Notions (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967, 53-58.

9 Cf. J. L. Mackie, op. cit. note 2, Ch. vii.

10 Op. cit. note 2, III, ii, I.

11 Cf. David Wiggins, op. cit. note 5, 347.

12 Cf. Gabriel Josipovici, Writing and the Body (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 47-48.

13 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Notebooks 19141916, G. H. von Wright and G. E. M. Anscombe (eds) (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1969), 73e.

14 Philippa Foot, ‘Reasons for Actions and Desires’, Aristotelian Society Suppl. Vol. 46 (1972).

15 Philippa Foot, ‘Are Moral Considerations Overriding?’, Virtues and Vices (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978), 181-188.

16 Bernard Williams, ‘Morality and the Emotions’, Problems ofthe Self (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 207-229.

17 Jonathan Harrison, Hume' Moral Epistemology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), 13-15.

18 Op. cit. note 8,161.

19 Mark Platts, ‘Moral Reality and the End of Desire’, Reference, Truth and Reality, Mark Platts (ed.) (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980), 6982.

20 For a similarly Realist account, along corresponding lines, of truth and falsity for sentences involving proper names, see my ‘Description and Identification’, Mind XCl, No. 363 (July 1982), 321-338.

21 J. L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1977), 15-49.

22 Gilbert Harman, The Nature of Morality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 91-114.

23 In its progress through various versions this paper has profited from criticism by Professor D. W. Hamlyn, Ruby Meager, Professor Kurt, Baier and Richard Rosenbluth among other contributors-to-discussion, and by Professor J. J. C. Smart, who read and commented on an earlier draft of thepresent version.

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  • ISSN: 0031-8191
  • EISSN: 1469-817X
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