On Becoming Responsible

Michael S. Pritchard

Michael Pritchard's study of individual morality is set in the trenches, in the valley of life itself. The moral agent he describes is real, not one of the rarified, rational characters portrayed in most ethics texts. Thus the view of morality Pritchard presents in these eleven essays is pluralistic, complex, and down-to-earth.

Pritchard rejects the premise that moral development begins in self-interest, citing evidence of empathy and moral connectedness in very young children. He provides a deliberate and convincing argument for a new starting point for the discussion of moral development, one in which self-interest and empathy are innate and equally essential groundings for individual morality. He then builds a comprehensive framework for tracing moral development that allows human morality to be grounded in both reason and emotion, and recognizes the importance to morality of justice and rights as well as caring and responsibility.

On Becoming Responsible is powerful evidence of what can be accomplished in moral philosophy when insightful philosophical analysis takes serious account of moral psychology.

—Review of Metaphysics

“Pritchard’s essays are detailed, rich, and often provocative.

—Journal of Religion
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Pritchard's work is both a product of and a contribution to the field of moral psychology that began in the 1960s as a blending of philosophical theories on morality and ethics with insights from psychological theory on human development and moral behavior. Through his essays run the common threads of moral education, the complexity of ingredients and influences in moral life, and the concept of personal integrity.

About the Author

Michael Pritchard, professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, is coauthor (with James Jaksa) of Communication Ethics: Methods of Analysis, author of Philosophical Adventures with Children, and coeditor (with Wade L. Robison) of Medical Responsibility.