Virtue ethics and moral sentimentalism

Authored by: Michael Slote

The Handbook of Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844656394
eBook ISBN: 9781315729053
Adobe ISBN: 9781317544777


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Virtue ethics dominated the ancient philosophical world (at least in the West) and in recent decades has revived in a very strong way. The original impetus to that revival came from Elizabeth Anscombe (1958), who called for more attention to Aristotelian moral psychology and a more Aristotelian eventual approach to ethics itself, but although the recent revival of virtue ethics originally centred pretty much entirely around the ideas and influence of Aristotle, other forms of virtue ethics eventually emerged: virtue ethics influenced by the Stoics, by Hume and by Nietzsche. Of these newer forms of revived virtue ethics, only the Humean or sentimentalist variety seems to stand much of a chance of gaining wide philosophical acceptance in present-day circumstances. And the current possibilities for moral-sentimentalist virtue ethics have also led philosophers into more intense historical studies of Hume, and of his teacher, Francis Hutcheson, as virtue ethicists or as at least approximating to virtue ethicists. 1

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