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Love and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics

Love and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics: Aristotle, Lonergan, and Nussbaum on Emotions and Moral Insight

  • Book Info
    Love and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics
    Book Description:

    Drawing on Aristotle'sNicomachean Ethicsand the work of Bernard Lonergan and Martha Nussbaum, Robert J. Fitterer tests the assumption that the inclusion of the emotions leads to bias in objective judgments or when determining moral truths.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8852-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)

    This book is an inquiry into the kind of objectivity proper to Aristotelian virtue ethics. In such an ethics, the grasp of what is good or right in a given scenario is said to be attainable through some kind of moral sensitivity that operates, at least in part, directly from an agent’s feelings, life experience, and empathic sensitivity to concrete situations. The virtuous person has acquired skill in spotting ethical salience in particular cases. But it is here, seemingly, that the influence of bias, special interest, and poor cognition may interfere. For how reliable can an ethics be that is...

  5. 1 Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Books I, II, III, and VI
    (pp. 9-33)

    This book pursues two general questions. First, what have I been doing right when I make a breakthrough while pondering a moral conundrum, when the ‘light goes on’ and I hit upon a sound moral insight? Second, why should doing that count as ‘being objective’ with regard to moral truth and moral perception? In seeking an answer to these questions, I am seeking to understand both the method of doing virtue ethics as well as factors that interfere with the operations of that method. Since my whole inquiry has been instigated by intriguing and difficult doctrines found in Aristotle’s works,...

  6. 2 Lonergan’s Theory of Insight and Cognitive Operations
    (pp. 34-53)

    In pursuit of a deeper understanding of just which cognitive operations are at play when thephronimosgains moral insight, I turn now to the general theory of human understanding developed by Bernard Lonergan. We have seen how Aristotelian virtue ethics relies upon some mode of direct insight that grasps the human good within presented particulars, and it is precisely the vital role of insight that is richly explored in Lonergan’s work.

    Under scrutiny here are three major aspects of Lonergan’s theory: the nature of insight and the overall cognitive process in which it plays the key role; the nature...

  7. 3 Lonergan’s ‘Common Sense Insight’ and Its Relation to Phronesis
    (pp. 54-72)

    How does a maximally generalized method of insight induction work in the daily rough and tumble of ethical choices and decisions? In the light of Aristotle’s ethical perception as well as Lonergan’s general theory, I wish now to focus more precisely upon Lonergan’s description of a kind of insight deployed against the concrete and particular circumstances of human living. I think that Lonergan’s ‘common sense insight,’ together with his identification of the cognitive role of emotions, can be shown to be what thephronimosis activating when gaining ethical insight. Providing a comparison of common sense andphronesisis my...

  8. 4 Emotive Perception of Value and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics
    (pp. 73-96)

    We have just seen that one type of cognitive malfunction is bias. Bias is tangled with emotion and often cuts short the open-mindedness of free inquiry. Clearly, if we can claim that there is a wrong way in which emotion affects judgment and perception, there must also be a right way. This chapter will turn to Martha Nussbaum’s recent work on the cognitive nature of emotion and its role in discerning value, especially ethical value.

    The goal of this chapter is to fill out more satisfactorily Lonergan’s contention that in emotion we apprehend personal, yet actual, value. Nussbaum far surpasses...

  9. Concluding Summary
    (pp. 97-100)

    My project in this book has been an examination of the subjective pole of the psychology and phenomenology of moral insight; that is, a look at practical wisdom from the driver’s seat of thephronimos. Since the goal of Aristotle’s virtue ethics was not to expound a theory of the good per se, but to explain to the well-prepared student the elements that go into living the good life, it has been worth looking at just what is going on from the point of view of the practitioner ofphronesis. For the call is ultimately for readers of such an...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 101-120)
  11. References
    (pp. 121-126)
  12. Index
    (pp. 127-133)