Normative ethics, conversion, and pictures as tools of moral persuasion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


In attempting to influence the moral views of others, activists sometimes employ pictures as tools of moral persuasion. In such cases, a viewer is confronted with an actual instance of the practice whose morality is at issue and invited to draw a general moral conclusion in response. This paper explores some of the philosophical issues that arise in connection with the use of pictures as tools of moral persuasion, with special attention to the roles of acquaintance and conversion in the moral domain. Against concerns that relying on pictures will tend to bias or distort one's moral judgment, the paper offers a qualified defense of the use of pictures. It then considers some implications for (i) the characterization of wide reflective equilibrium, (ii) the concept of a moral expert, and (iii) our attitudes towards our moral convictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Normative Ethics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191732058
ISBN (Print)9780199693269
StatePublished - Jan 19 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Acquaintance
  • Bias
  • Conversion
  • Moral epistemology
  • Moral expert
  • Moral knowledge
  • Moral persuasion
  • Pictures
  • Reflective equilibrium


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