Sentimentalist moral education

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3 Scopus citations


Care ethics, and moral sentimentalism more generally, have not developed a picture of moral education that is comparable in scope or depth to the rationalist/Kantian/Rawlsian account of moral education that has been offered by Lawrence Kohlberg. But it is possible to do so if one borrows from the work of Martin Hoffman and makes systematic use of Hume's earlier sentimentalist ideas. Kohlberg and Rawls offer accounts of moral learning that leave moral motivation largely unexplained or mysterious, but an emphasis on the psychology of empathy can help us to better understand both the content of our morality and the ways in which children and adults can become and be morally motivated. Parents can in a number of ways evoke and strengthen children's empathic moral tendencies, and such processes can also occur and need to occur in schools and later on in life. In addition, a sentimentalist understanding of the meaning of moral terms can show how moral rules, principles, and injunctions can strongly reinforce the sorts of empathic/moral tendencies that are at least initially based in other elements of human psychology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-143
Number of pages19
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • empathy
  • inductive discipline
  • moral education
  • moral sentimentalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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