Moral Psychology as Soul Picture

The Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming)
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Iris Murdoch offers a distinctive conception of moral psychology. She suggests that to develop a moral psychology is to develop what she calls a soul-picture; different philosophical moral psychologies are, as she puts it, “rival soul-pictures.” In this paper I clarify Murdoch’s generic notion of “soul-picture,” the genus of which, for example, Aristotle’s, Kant’s, Nietzsche’s, and Murdoch’s constitute rival species. Are all philosophical moral psychologies soul-pictures? If not, what are the criteria that a moral psychology must meet in order to qualify as a soul-picture? I propose five key dimensions. A soul-picture provides a picture of the soul or self that is 1) holistic, 2) value-rich and psychologically realistic (for Murdoch these are intertwined), 3) reflexive, 4) therapeutic and 5) the articulation of which makes use of imaginative language.

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Francey Russell
Barnard College


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