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date: 26 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Drawing on Plato’s and Aristotle’s ethics, Iris Murdoch and John McDowell argue that virtue is best conceived as a sensitivity. According to this account, and against the modern conception of virtue as strength of will, virtue is a single cognitive-motivational sensitivity to moral requirements. It equips the agent to discern what is morally required and ensures that she is motivated accordingly. The sensitivity conception of virtue rejects the modern aspiration to codify moral requirements but defends the objectivity of those requirements. It thus builds on classical moral psychology to offer an alternative to modern approaches to ethics and to moral skepticism. The chapter offers a sympathetic reconstruction of the sensitivity account, and its conclusion suggests one way to develop it.

Keywords: Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, objectivity, virtue, sensitivity, cognitive-motivational, moral psychology

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