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Moral attention: A comparative philosophical study

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The notion of moral attention allows the recognition of fundamental aspects of ethical life ignored or neglected by mainstream ethical theories. It is central to the theories of several notable female ethicists and many of them identify the French philosopher Simone Weil as the source of the contemporary use of this concept which invites questioning of crucial categories in the domain of ethics and moral education, such as the importance of the will as well as the definition of the moral sphere itself. The meanings given to the notion of moral attention are examined in the work of three ethicists: Iris Murdoch, Nel Noddings and Joan Tronto with the object of bringing out points of agreement and disagreement between their respective conceptions of this subject. The way they have addressed the complex problem of educating for moral attention is analyzed and important implications for moral education are discussed.

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... The image, commonly referred to as "The Falling Man", was (re-)printed in numerous newspapers before it was banned based on ethical concerns (which did not, however, erase it from the digital hivemind), closely connected to those raised by Lisa. What is at stake here is 'moral attention', which can be described as the suspension of one's own goals and concerns and the recognition of and adequate response to the needs of others (see Gendron 2016;also Tronto 1993: 128). As Martha Nussbaum has argued, fiction can assist us in refining our moral attention. ...
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This paper explores the aesthetics of fragmentation and its impact on 21st-century fiction. As argued in this article, one of the principal tasks of literary studies in the 21st century is to engage in cross-disciplinary attention studies and assess the complex function of ‘literary attention’ in the greater attention economy which characterises contemporary Western cultures.
... The image, commonly referred to as "The Falling Man", was (re-)printed in numerous newspapers before it was banned based on ethical concerns (which did not, however, erase it from the digital hivemind), closely connected to those raised by Lisa. What is at stake here is 'moral attention', which can be described as the suspension of one's own goals and concerns and the recognition of and adequate response to the needs of others (see Gendron 2016;also Tronto 1993: 128). As Martha Nussbaum has argued, fiction can assist us in refining our moral attention. ...
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Chapter
Visual metaphors-attention, perception, seeing, looking, and vision-play a central role in Murdoch's moral philosophy and moral psychology. This chapter distinguishes three importantly distinct phenomena that Murdoch fails consistently to mark: (1) a conscious and successful perception of moral reality (often called "attention"); (2) a focused act of attention that contributes to structuring the world of value as seen by an individual agent, but which can be distorted so that it is not focused on moral reality; (3) the habitual and unselfconscious way of taking in the world around us that has been structured by various forces, including but not limited to (1) and (2). In her account of why people fail to grasp moral reality, Murdoch privileges individual psychological obstacles (illusion, fantasy, self-centered distortion) but neglects social forms of obstacles-stereotypes about race-or class-based groups, for example-that also contribute to (3) and distort moral perception.
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Iris Murdoch's philosophy has long attracted readers searching for a morally serious yet humane perspective on human life. Her eloquent call for "a theology which can continue without God" has been especially attractive to those who find that they can live neither with religion nor without it. By developing a form of thinking that is neither exclusively secular nor traditionally religious, Murdoch sought to recapture the existential or spiritual import of philosophy. Long before the current wave of interest in spiritual exercises, she approached philosophy not only as an academic discourse, but as a practice whose aim is the transformation of perception and consciousness. As she put it, a moral philosophy should be capable of being "inhabited" that is, it should be "a philosophy one could live by." In A Philosophy to Live By, Maria Antonaccio argues that Murdoch's thought embodies an ascetic model of philosophy for contemporary life. Extending and complementing the argument of her earlier monograph, Picturing the Human: The Moral Thought of Iris Murdoch, this new work establishes Murdoch's continuing relevance by engaging her thought with a variety of contemporary thinkers and debates in ethics, from a perspective informed by Murdoch's philosophy as a whole. Among the prominent philosophers engaged here are Charles Taylor, Martha Nussbaum, Stephen Mulhall, John Rawls, Pierre Hadot, and Michel Foucault, and theologians such as Stanley Hauerwas, David Tracy, William Schweiker, and others. These engagements represent a sustained effort to think with Murdoch, yet also beyond her, by enlisting the resources of her thought to explore wider debates at the intersections of moral philosophy, religion, art, and politics, and in doing so, to illuminate the distinctive patterns and tropes of her philosophical style.
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In this provocative new book, renowned educator and philosopher Nel Noddings extends her influential work on the ethics of care toward a compelling objective-global peace and justice. She asks: If we celebrate the success of women becoming more like men in professional life, should we not simultaneously hope that men become more like women-in caring for others, rejecting violence, and valuing the work of caring both publicly and personally? Drawing on current work on evolution, and bringing concrete examples from women's lived experience to make a strong case for her position, Noddings answers this question by locating one source of morality in maternal instinct. She traces the development of the maternal instinct to natural caring and ethical caring, offering a preliminary sketch of what a care-driven concept of justice might look like. Finally, to advance the cause of caring, peace, and women's advancement, Noddings urges women to abandon institutional, patriarchal religion and to seek their own paths to spirituality.
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Iris Murdoch has long been known as one of the most deeply insightful and morally passionate novelists of our time. This attention has often eclipsed Murdoch's sophisticated and influential work as a philosopher, which has had a wide-ranging impact on thinkers in moral philosophy as well as religious ethics and political theory. Yet it has never been the subject of a book-length study in its own right. Picturing the Human seeks to fill this gap. In this groundbreaking book, author Maria Antonaccio presents the first systematic and comprehensive treatment of Murdoch's moral philosophy. Unlike literary critical studies of her novels, it offers a general philosophical framework for assessing Murdoch's thought as a whole. Antonaccio also suggests a new interpretive method for reading Murdoch's philosophy and outlines the significance of her thought in the context of current debates in ethics. This vital study will appeal to those interested in moral philosophy, religious ethics, and literary criticism, and grants those who have long loved Murdoch's novels a closer look at her remarkable philosophy.
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In the last few years the Ethics of Care has received increasing and often controversial attention. Using Nel Noddings' "Caring" as the primary text, I intend to summarize the book's central tenets and survey the major criticisms of an Ethics of Care, which I classify into two groups-the claim that the Ethics of Care is: (a) a Domain Ethic; or (b) a Dangerous Ethic. I will then consider issues and problems of educational application. I will close with some observations on the present status of the Ethics of Care and its significance for education.
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This book represents the summation of Murdoch's work as a philosopher. It surveys the development of Western philosophy, from Plato to Schopenhauer and Wittgenstein, and takes issue with new trends such as structuralism, arguing the case for a moral view in metaphysical argument. Iris Murdoch has written a number of short philosophical works including "The Fire and the Sun" and "Sartre: Romantic Rationalist".
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Understanding students requires intellectual and moral attentiveness. Intellectual attentiveness means becoming as close to students' responses to subject matter as time and opportunity allow. Moral attentiveness implies being alert to students' responses to personal-growth opportunities. Developing attentiveness constitutes a career-long process of teacher development and growth. (23 references) (MLH)
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This research draws from social cognitive theory to develop a construct known as moral attentiveness, the extent to which an individual chronically perceives and considers morality and moral elements in his or her experiences, and proposes that moral attentiveness affects a variety of behaviors. A series of 5 studies with undergraduates, MBA students, and managers were conducted to create and validate a reliable multidimensional scale and to provide evidence that moral attentiveness is associated with (a) the recall and reporting of self- and others' morality-related behaviors, (b) moral awareness, and (c) moral behavior. Results of the studies suggest that moral attentiveness has a significant effect on how individuals understand and act in their moral worlds.
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I hope to persuade Hilde L. Nelson that she is wrong about an ethics of caring.... In conclusion, caring is an "ethics of attention," but it includes more than attention. 'Carers' must respond as well as attend. Much more needs to be done in describing caring responses, especially when social problems are involved. I agree with Nelson that an ethics or a moral orientation must deal with social problems. I also agree that, to date, most of us working on caring have written little on the subject. However, I do not agree that an ethics of caring is unable to address social problems. We have to work at showing that it can.
The sovereignty of good
  • I Murdoch
Just babies: The origins of good and evil
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Must we motivate? Teaching and its predicaments (pp. 29-43)
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Le risque ou le care?
  • J C Tronto
Particularisme et responsabilité relationnelle en morale: une autre approche de l’éthique globale [Particularism and relational responsability in the moral domain: another approach of global ethics
  • J C Tronto
Existentialists and mystics: Writings on philosophy and literature
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Stories in dialogue, caring, and interpersonal reasoning
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Care et perception Le souci des autres : Éthique et politique du care [Caring for others : Ethics and politics of care
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Complexity in caring and empathy. Abstracta, Special Issue V
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Dangling man (1st ed. 1944)
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