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A sensible sentimentalism


The Sentimentalist argues that at least some evaluative properties, especially moral ones, are constituted by emotional responses. What is the best way to understand this claim? Against the received view of emotion, I develop a prototype theory according to which emotions are neither innate nor universal. Most contemporary Sentimentalists appeal to basic emotions to secure the objectivity of moral judgments. I argue, using the prototype theory of emotion, that emotions are not basic and that emotional judgments are best understood as subjective but not speaker relative and that a view of this kind can explain seemingly objective aspects of moral discourse. I close by challenging the claim that values are response-dependent by criticizing contemporary arguments for response-dependence and proposing an empirical test for response-dependency claims within reactive attitude theories of moral responsibility

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