Sympathy, Impartiality, and Care

Southwest Philosophy Review 33 (2):69-76 (2017)
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Abstract

In "Monkeys, Men, and Moral Responsibility: A Neo-Aristotelian Case for a Qualitative Distinction," Paul Carron (2017) uses the tragic case of Travis the chimpanzee to test Frans de Waal's gradualism. If Travis is not to blame for anything simply because he's a chimp, then gradualism cannot be total: There must be a qualitative difference between chimps and humans that makes humans morally responsible and chimps not. As I understand it, Carron's neo-Aristotelian thesis is that chimps cannot emotionally regulate: The emotional states from which primates act are given to them and "lack rational content," whereas the emotional states from which humans act can be self-consciously developed in the cultivation of character. Carron takes this thesis to be a friendly amendment because it arises "from within the sentimentalist tradition itself broadly construed." In this comment I question just how friendly Carron's amendment turns out to be.

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Susan V. H. Castro
Wichita State University

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