Morality And Sympathy In Jonathan Bennett's The Ethical Life

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In the text, The Ethical Life, by Russ Shafer-Landau, it questions Jonathan Bennett’s morality and sympathy and how the two of them can come into conflict. Morality and sympathy are connected, but still very different. Throughout this chapter, Jonathan Bennett outlines many important points and factors that go into these connections and how they can overlap and conflict. Jonathan Bennett says morality can be “bad1.” This type of morality is one that Bennett strongly disagrees with, no so much that one’s morality is actually proven to be bad or even untrue. Sympathy is different than morality in a myriad of ways. In the text, Bennett uses the term sympathy as an umbrella of feelings covering “feeling pity over someone’s loneliness, or horrified …show more content…

An explanation given in the text is how sympathy and morality will align. When there is a conflict, one side will usually be both sympathy and morality while the other side could be fear of punishment or the anticipation or expectation of a reward. A famous exception to this would be the character Huck in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Now only was he not taught proper morals, but he also grew up in an area and time period where slavery was acceptable. Owning a slave then could be the equivalent of owning a car, something that is not morally wrong. So, when Huck picks up Jim, a recently escaped slave, and heads up the Mississippi River, he gets nervous when Jim begins to talk about how he will soon be free and plans to buy, or even steal, his wife and children. This was during a time where Huck would be committing a crime by helping a slave escape. He has a difficult time deciding to be loyal to his friend and let Jim continue up the rest of the way up north so that he can be freed, or to turn Jim in as an escaped slave. Huck fears getting in trouble, but he also is very torn because of the relationship that he now has with Jim. Huck’s askew sense of sympathy and morality are conflicting each other. He sympathizes with Jim, but believes that turning him in is the right thing to do. This moral decision is not in line with his

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