Review Of "Morals From Motives" By M. Slote

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The enormous revival of "virtue ethics" in the last 15 years is more concerned with what it is to be a good person than with formulating and defending principles of right-conduct. Most advocates of virtue ethics draw on Aristotelian sources. Slote (Univ. of Maryland, College Park) draws instead on the "sentimentalist" approach of Francis Hutcheson and David Hume. One of the difficulties with virtue ethics, especially when it emphasizes caring, as Slote does, is that it seems to favor those close to us, ignoring strangers. This criticism, for example, has often been leveled against Nel Noddings's Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education (CH, Nov'84). Slote argues, however, that we can move through that criticism and link caring with justice to strangers. In developing his argument, Slote has much to say about self-interest, agent-based morality, and practical reason. Because Slote's argument moves within current controversies in moral philosophy, the book is probably accessible only to upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and professional philosophers, for whom it is highly recommended.


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