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The Case for a "Sentimentalist" Account of Moral Claims

I've rethought the Prinz article on the argument for "sentimentalism" as an explanation of moral valuing and now think that this does deserve a post of its own. Jesse Prinze presents his case for explaining moral valuation as emotional reactions based on some scientific studies of actual moral judgment-making among subjects in relation to their detected, hypothezised or reported emotional states in that article. He does this in light of the powerful critique offered by David Hume centuries ago which asserted that moral claims are just expressions of sentiment, reflecting our human inclinations to approve or disapprove of things around us and the training and education we have received which develops certain sentiments in us and, perhaps, suppresses others.

Since Hume this has been an important challenge to those wishing to make something more of moral valuation than just the idea that it merely expresses some feelings we happen to have because feelings, as Hume suggested, cannot really be argued for while moral claims seem to involve argumentation (we think we can give reasons for the claims of this sort that we can make, reasons which others will find convincing if understood aright). . . .

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