The Wrong Kind of Mistake: A Problem for Robust Sentimentalism about Moral Judgment
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In a 1971 interview broadcast on Granada TV Manchester, Woody Allen made one of his trademark self-deprecating remarks about an early film of his: “It was a boring picture, as I recall.” The interviewer responded with surprise: “I rather enjoyed it.” To which Allen replied: “Yes, but you’re mistaken.” In the world of humor, Allen’s reply sounds odd – which is why it is funny. In the moral domain, an exchange like this would not sound weird at all. What is or is not funny is settled by what we find funny. There is no being mistaken about it. Not so for morality: moral discourse – and our philosophical reconstruction of how it works – ought to allow for a considerable amount of error.
Robust forms of sentimentalism about moral judgment, I will argue in this paper, fall short of this requirement.1 In its most general form, this charge is not new, and has been leveled against many metaethical theories of moral judgment that put the emotions at center stage.2But usually,...