Exemplarist Moral Theory
Prof. Linda Zagzebski (University of Oklahoma)

October 12, 2017, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven

Kardinaal Mercierplein 2

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This talk will outline a new kind of moral theory I call Exemplarist Moral Theory, which maps the primary set of moral terms (virtue, right act, good life, good end, etc.) around the features of exemplars, to whom we refer directly through the emotion of admiration. Since admiration motivates us to emulate admirable persons, observation of exemplars not only reveals what admirable persons are like, but it can also inspire us to become better persons. I discuss three types of exemplars: heroes, saints, and sages. Exemplars of each of these types have been the subjects of detailed observations, either in the form of traditional narratives, or in controlled empirical studies. I will argue that making the foundation of a moral theory a set of persons rather than a concept has theoretical advantages in addition to tracking a natural way human beings become moral.

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