Admiration, moral knowledge and transformative experiences
In this paper, I examine the role played by the emotion of admiration in formulating moral judgments. First, I discuss whether and when admiration is a reliable source of moral knowledge, or, on the contrary, it misleads the subject, leaving her prey to forms of uncritical devotion to unworthy objects of admiration. To do so, I try to elucidate which underlying theory of emotions best allows one to characterize admiration as a reliable source of moral knowledge. Second, I introduce the notion of transformative moral experience, understood as a subclass of transformative experiences (cf. Paul 2014), and I argue that it is precisely admiration that ensures the rationality of the choices made in such experiences. Finally, in light of this analysis, I show how admiration—together with the constellation of positive and negative emotions connected to the perception of moral exemplarity—acts as a central element for the maintenance of moral integrity. I defend, in particular, the idea that integrity should not be understood as mere coherence, nor as a static maintenance of the moral status quo, but as being firmly rooted in one’s own identity yet open to novelty (see Rees and Webber 2014; Cox, La Caze, and Levine 2014, 2017) and especially to the novelty represented by transformative moral experiences.
Copyright (c) 2019 Maria Silvia Vaccarezza
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