From OUP’s blurb on the book: “What does it mean to be a morally good person? It can be tempting to think that it is simply a matter of performing certain actions and avoiding others. And yet, there is much more to moral character than our outward actions. We expect a good person to not only behave in certain ways, but also to experience the world in certain ways within. Pleasure, emotion, and attention are important parts of our moral character despite being involuntary inner states. Inner Virtue defends a theory of why and how such states are relevant to moral character: These states say something about what kind of person one is by manifesting our deepest cares and concerns.”
From Cokelet’s review: “This clear, engaging book proposes a manifest care account of inner virtue and vice — an account explaining when and why inner states such as pleasure, pain, envy, and gratitude make us better or worse people. As far as I know, this is the only contemporary book devoted to the topic of inner virtue, and Bommarito admirably establishes it as an important and interesting one.
“Let’s assume that Bommarito can convincingly defend his claim that care-manifestation blocking ADD and Autism do not make us worse as moral persons. That still leaves open questions about how his manifest care account of inner virtue and vice compares with more rationalist alternatives. For example, consider a Foot (1987) inspired view on which inner moral virtue and vice are constituted by inner states that manifest good or bad will. On her view, having a good will is in part a matter of valuing the right things in a wise way, so the relevant view might hold that (i) inner virtue is constituted by inner states that manifest wise values and (ii) inner vice is constituted by emotions, pleasures, pains, and patterns of attention that manifest foolish or false values. Foot herself might resist the view because some of the relevant inner states are involuntary, but we can assume our Foot-inspired rationalist has good reason to hold that involuntary inner states are, in the relevant conditions, morally vicious, and turn to some cases that our rationalist could introduce to establish the superiority of her manifest wise value account.
“Consider, first, a depressed friend who values your friendship and your well-being but who is shocked to discover that he does not care when your marriage falls apart and then your friendship starts to suffer too. He believes, and takes himself to know, what it means to be a real friend. He believes he should care about your suffering and the dissolution of your relationship, but in the depths of depression he finds that these things just don’t matter to him in the way he judges they should. He can understand and even rationally accept that you are distancing yourself from him because he is unable to be there for you as you try to build a post-divorce life. Compare this tragically depressed friend with another, more bizarre “friend” who does not very feel bad about your hardships or the dissolution of your friendship but who also evaluatively endorses these inner sentimental responses. He judges that your suffering is nothing compared to that of the homeless people with whom he works and he denies that friends should care more about the suffering of friends than of strangers. On the manifest care account, these two people exhibit equally bad forms of moral vice. In each case, the friend’s lack of sympathetic concern for your suffering manifests a lack of care, so on the manifest care account they fall short of moral virtue to the same degree. But this is implausible. The friend who righty values your well-being, understands what it means to be a real friend, and judges he should care about your suffering even though he does not, exhibits less vice than the odd fellow who evaluatively endorses his unsympathetic response to your plight. Your depressed friend fails to manifest full virtue because he does not care about, or manifest care in response to, your suffering, but his lack of feeling for your suffering is less vicious than that of the odd duck who works with the homeless. As the Foot-inspired rationalist would point out, this is just what her manifest wise value account would predict: the second odd “friend” exbibits more vice because his lack of sympathy manifests foolish or false values, not just a lack of apt care.
“Second, consider Willis, who discovers that he cares about social status and social capital more than he thinks he should. When he is at conferences, Willis pays close attention to the famous and powerful people in his social networks, and he ignores those who are less well-known and well-connected. His friend points this out to him and Willis is dismayed because he judges that this is a bad. He believes he should care less about social status and social capital and more about the intrinsic goods of conversation and social interaction. According to the manifest care account, Willis’ patterns of attention at the conference are vicious insofar as they manifest his too strong care for social status and social capital and his too weak care for the intrinsic goods of conversation and social interaction. But now compare Willis with Donald. Donald also cares too much for social status and social capital but he rationally endorses these cares. When his friend draws attention to the way he snubs and ignores the people on the bottom of the social status hierarchy, Donald is not dismayed because he judges that those people are losers who are not worth talking to. His cares are in harmony with his values because he thinks it is better to get ahead than to treat others well. As with the previous cases, the manifest wise value account seems to do better than the manifest care account. Both Willis and Donald manifest vice in their patterns of attention, but Donald’s perverse values make his fawning attention to the famous and his insensitive snubbing of the relatively powerless more vicious than Willis’.
“I’m not sure how Bommarito would respond to the cases just given and I don’t think that, by themselves, they provide compelling evidence in favor of a rationalist account of inner virtue. But they illustrate the sorts of considerations and arguments that Bommarito and other defenders of the manifest care account need to engage with in order to make a strong case.”