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moral sense

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


E thics Analogous to the sense of beauty , moral sense is supposed to be an intuitive, disinterested faculty which enables us to recognize moral qualities, such as being good and bad, virtuous and vicious, from what we feel. If the observation of an action is painful and disquieting, the action must be bad or evil. If the observation of an action results in a pleasant feeling, the action is good and virtuous. On such a basis, moral sense further motivates us toward morally right and virtuous behavior. Moral sense conflicts with the theological position that God 's will is the basis of morality and is also opposed to rationalism , since it insists that reason cannot account for our motivation and claims that morality is felt rather than reasoned. The theory that argues for the existence of moral sense is called moral sense theory, and is particularly associated with the eighteenth-century British philosophers Shaftesbury , Francis Hutcheson , and David Hume. Moral sense theory tries to base itself on Locke 's theory of knowledge, and it is a version of moral intuitionism. It is also called sentimentalism. Its major contribution is to emphasize the role of feeling in morality. Criticism of this theory generally alludes to the fact that there is no justification for positing an extra faculty of moral sense and that such a theory cannot avoid moral relativism. “One man ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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