Unprincipled Virtue

Unprincipled Virtue : An Inquiry Into Moral Agency

4.17 (47 ratings by Goodreads)
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4.17 (47 ratings by Goodreads)

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Conventional thinking about the mind - dating back to Aristotle - envisions the emotions as being directed and, to a larger extent, determined by rational thought. This picture emerges from a model of the psyche as being divided into two components, one rational and the other irrational. The rational component is where we make our decisions, and when we act we do so on the basis of rational deliberation. Yet how is it that we sometimes perform rational acts in our
best interests without having formally decided to do so?

Nomy Arpaly argues that the conventional picture of rationality used by most philosophers and psychologists is fundamentally false and has little to do with how real human beings actually behave. Both common sense observations and psychology indicate that people act rationally without deliberation, and also often act irrationally with deliberation. She uses the example of Huckleberry Finn, who intuits that he should free Jim from slavery despite the recognition that it would be
"wrong" to do so. By questioning our ability to understand our own motivations, Arpaly attempts to develop a more "realistic" conception of moral agency than the view currently being touted by contemporary etchicists and action theorists. Offering a fresh and provocative perspective on moral responsibility,
autonomy, rationality and the self, Unprincipled Virtue breaks new ground in the highly contested issue of human agency.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 214 pages
  • 148 x 215 x 18mm | 422g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New
  • 0195152042
  • 9780195152043

Review quote

a fantastic book. Its ambitions are high, its arguments are insightful and its prose is clear and crisp. I recommend it in the highest possible terms to anyone working on the intersections of moral psychology, philosophy of action, philosophy of mind, practical reason, and normative ethics * Ethics * Unprincipled Virtue is a compelling and thought-provoking piece of philosophy by a wonderfully creative philosopher. It is necessary reading for anyone concerned with moral psychology and the nature of moral responsibility. It would make an excellent text for both advanced undergraduate courses and graduate courses, and it deserves careful study by a wide range of professional philosophers. * The Journal of Ethics * There is much to admire about this compact book. It is elegantly, even beautifully written. Unencumbered by the usual density of citations and footnoted qualifications, it makes for a brisk, enjoyable read. * The Journal of Ethics * ... a significant and exciting contribution to our understanding of moral psychology and moral responsibility. It is bursting with innovative examples, compelling arguments, and ideas important for a broad range of issues in normative theory. * The Journal of Ethics *
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Rating details

4.17 out of 5 stars
- 47 ratings
5 43% (20)
4 38% (18)
3 15% (7)
2 2% (1)
1 2% (1)
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