Perception, Empathy, and Judgment: An Inquiry into the Preconditions of Moral Performance

Perception, Empathy, and Judgment: An Inquiry into the Preconditions of Moral Performance

Perception, Empathy, and Judgment: An Inquiry into the Preconditions of Moral Performance

Perception, Empathy, and Judgment: An Inquiry into the Preconditions of Moral Performance

Synopsis

This book is a study in moral theory. Its subject is the relation between morality and emotions. The account of moral performance advanced here has epistemological implications because in speaking of moral perceptions and judgment we need to know how the moral agent gains access to that over which perception and judgment are exercised.

Excerpt

This book is a study in moral theory. Its subject is the relation between morality and emotions. The thesis I wish to establish is that our emotional abilities provide us with our principal mode of access to the domain of the moral. In the course of building my argument I use a number of examples -- some of them fictitious and construed, others strictly empirical. Looming large among the latter is the Holocaust, the near-total destruction of the European Jews.

Thus, the present study is more interdisciplinary in scope and method than most philosophical treatises in the field of moral theory. This range is well reflected in the variety of disciplines represented in the group of persons from whom I have received stimulating criticism and advice: persons who all share an interest in moral theory and to whom the Holocaust is a historical event, indeed a warning, of never-ending concern, yet persons whose views on the ideas advanced in my study differ widely. More often than not, therefore, what some of my critics will find convincing, others will find wanting.

The work was conceived and drafted in Frankfurt between 1988 and 1990. Those in Frankfurt to whom my thanks are due include Jürgen Habermas, Martin Löw-Beer, Richard J. Bernstein, Seyla Benhabib, Axel Honneth, Chris Latiolais, Joel Anderson, Rainer Forst, William Rehg, and, last but not least, my most critical critic, Joachim Renn. In Oslo I have benefited from discussions, and disagreements, with Alastair Hannay, Audun Øfsti, and Jon Wetlesen.

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