Exemplarist Moral Theory
In this book Linda Zagzebski presents an original moral theory based on direct reference to exemplars of goodness, modeled on the Putnam-Kripke theory which revolutionized semantics in the seventies. In Exemplarist Moral Theory, exemplars are identified through the emotion of admiration, which
Zagzebski argues is both a motivating emotion and an emotion whose cognitive content permits the mapping of the moral domain around the features of exemplars. Using examples of heroes, saints, and sages, Zagzebski shows how narratives of exemplars and empirical work on the most admirable persons can
be incorporated into the theory for both the theoretical purpose of generating a comprehensive theory, and the practical purpose of moral education and self-improvement. All basic moral terms, including good person, virtue, good life, right act, and wrong act are defined by the motives,
ends, acts, or judgments of exemplars, or persons like that. The theory also generates an account of moral learning through emulation of exemplars, and Zagzebski defends a principle of the division of moral linguistic labor, which gives certain groups of people in a linguistic community special
functions in identifying the extension or moral terms, spreading the stereotype associated with the term through the community, or providing the reasoning supporting judgments using those terms. The theory is therefore semantically externalist in that the meaning of moral terms is determined by
features of the world outside the mind of the user, including features of exemplars and features of the social linguistic network linking users of the terms to exemplars. The book ends with suggestions about versions of the theory that are forms of moral realism, including a version that supports
the existence of necessary a posteriori truths in ethics.
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acquired admirable persons Analects argued Aristotle behavior beliefs Chapter components concept Confucian Confucius connection contempt courage desirable direct reference discussion disposition Donnellan duty Earthians emotion of admiration emplars emulation envy epistemic ethics eudaimonia exem exemplarist exemplars experience feeling flourishing give gold Haidt hero Holocaust rescuers human identify imitation important includes intellectual virtues intolerable acts Jean Vanier justify Keith Donnellan Kevin Reimer Kripke Leopold Socha Linguistic Labor linguistic network lives mean moral exemplars moral judgments moral practices moral reasoning moral terms moral theory motive narratives natural kind terms necessary a posteriori object observation one’s ordinary Oskar Schindler philosophers phronesis Plenty Coups posteriori problem propose psychological public goods game Putnam reflection right act sage saint semantics sense someone stereotype story structure thing tigers tion traits truth users virtue term virtue theory virtuous act virtuous person wisdom wise persons wrong act Zagzebski