This book draws on Iris Murdoch’s philosophy to explore questions related to the importance of attention in ethics. In doing so, it also engages with Murdoch’s ideas about the existence of a moral reality, the importance of love, and the necessity but also the difficulty, for most of us, of fighting against our natural self-centred tendencies.

Why is attention important to morality? This book argues that many moral failures and moral achievements can be explained by attention. Not only our actions and choices, but the possibilities we choose among, and even the meaning of what we perceive, are to a large extent determined by whether we pay attention, and what we attend to. In this way, the book argues that attention is fundamental, though often overlooked, in morality. While the book’s discussion of attention revolves primarily around Murdoch’s thought, it also engages significantly with Simone Weil, who introduced the concept of attention in a spiritual context. The book also engages with contemporary debates concerning moral perception and motivation, empirical psychology, animal ethics, and Buddhist philosophy.

The Ethics of Attention will be of interest to researchers and advanced students working on Iris Murdoch, Simone Weil, ethics and moral psychology, and the philosophy of attention.

chapter |13 pages


chapter 1|49 pages

What is ethical about attention?

chapter 2|24 pages

Attention without self-concern

chapter 3|23 pages

Attention without self

chapter 4|19 pages


chapter 5|21 pages

Moral perception

chapter 6|23 pages

Motivation and action

chapter |4 pages