Sympathy, Principle and Moral Worth

WMB December 16th 2009 Sympathy, Principle and Moral Worth In this paper I will be presenting an account of moral worth. I will be discussing feelings of sympathy and principled morality as two competing factors (in certain kinds of cases) in determining ones action. This, in turn, will suggest a view of moral worth taken from Bennett's paper The Conscience of Huckleberry Finn. I will be using the literary case of Huckleberry Finn and historical figures such as Heinrich Himmler and Jonathan Edwards that are used in Bennett's paper to draw this distinction of adhering to one of these two competing factors. This will lead to how the outcome or moral judgment of action ultimately depends on the underlying factors implicit within the motives of feelings of sympathy and principled morality which will be drawn from Montague's paper Re-examining Huck Finns' Conscience and posit a position apart from judgment of action. After such distinctions can be made, I will further escalate the decision of moral judgment to terms of praise- and blame-worthiness from Arpaly's paper Moral Worth to give account of moral worth based off of the judgment of action. In Bennett's paper, he gives example of the main theme of his paper; how sympathy and morality can conflict in determining the actions one should take in a given circumstance. Bennett defines sympathy as " cover[ing] every sort of fellowfeeling, as when one feels pity over someone's loneliness, or horrified compassion over his pain, or when one feels a shrinking reluctance to act in a way which will bring misfortune to someone else."1 He also defines morality as "set of principles

of action which [one] sincerely assents to." His basic notion of these two concepts is apparent within the example:

A small child, sick and miserable, clings tightly to his mother and screams in terror when she tries to pass him over to the doctor to be examined. If the mother gave way to her sympathy, that is, to her feeling for the child's...