Review Of "Inner Virtue" By N. Bommarito

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Bommarito (NYU; Univ. of Buffalo, SUNY) makes a strong case for the proposition that one’s inner states can be virtuous or vicious even when they are disconnected from action or stem from less than rational emotions. What makes inner states such as attention virtuous is that they indicate one's cares and concerns. Someone visiting a foreign country sees a child fall into a well and is deeply distressed—even though what fell into the well was a log, not a child. Such a person evinces care and concern and to that extent is morally good, although factually mistaken. If that same observer were quietly pleased that there was one less foreigner in the world, the person would be morally vicious. In general, Bommarito argues, inner responses, even those that never eventuate in action, say something important about moral character, about whether one is a morally good person. This is true whether beliefs are factually correct or the response is less than rational. It does not follow (though it is possible) that someone with good/bad character is thus morally praiseworthy/blameworthy. Though inner states are often not freely chosen or developed, they can still support a judgment that one’s moral character is good/bad. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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