Moral Sentimentalism and Moral Psychology

Michael Slote

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This article sees moral sentimentalism as contrasting with rationalism, by which it means the view that reason rather than sentiment is the source of moral judgment and moral motivation. The chief moral sentiment, in its view, is empathic concern. It holds, for example, that moral goodness consists in empathic concern for others. This article sees sentimentalism as a position that straddles both normative and metaethical issues. This article discusses the history of sentimentalism, but does so, in substantial part, as a means to demonstrating the contemporary viability of an overall sentimentalist approach to ethics. It first explores some of the prospects of a contemporary normative (and virtue-ethical) sentimentalism, and then completes the picture with a sentimentalist account of the nature of moral judgment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780199892075, 0195147790, 9780195325911
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009


  • Metaethical issues
  • Moral judgment
  • Moral motivation
  • Moral sentimentalism
  • Rationalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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