Seeing what is the kind thing to do: Perception and emotion in morality

Peter Goldie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


I argue that it is possible, in the right circumstances, to see what the kind thing is to do: in the right circumstances, we can, literally, see deontic facts, as well as facts about others' emotional states, and evaluative facts. In arguing for this, I will deploy a notion of non-inferential perceptual belief or judgement according to which the belief or judgement is arrived at non-inferentially in the phenomenological sense (in the sense of involving no conscious reasoning on the subject's part) and yet is inferential in the epistemic sense (in the sense of being justifiable by the subject after the belief or judgement has been arrived at). The ability to arrive at these kinds of beliefs and judgements is part of virtue, and is also part of what it is to grasp thick ethical concepts in an engaged way. When we come to thinner evaluative and deontic facts and thinner ethical concepts, however, the requirements for non-inferential perceptual belief and judgement are less easily met. Seeing what is the kind thing to do is one matter; seeing what is the right thing to do is another. © 2007 Editorial Board of dialectica.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-361
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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