a1 Monush University
According to Wollstonecraft ‘every being may become virtuous by the exercise of its own reason’. This suggests that for her ethical judgement is based on reason, and so she is an ethical cognitivist. This impression is upheld by the fact that she clearly believes in the existence of ethical truth and has little sympathy with subjectivism. At the same time, she places a great deal of importance on the role of the emotions in ethical judgement. This raises the question how the emotions can be relevant if ethics consists in a realm of truths, discoverable by reason. The paper answers this question and clarifies Wollstonecraft's model of the interaction of emotion and reason by comparing it with those of Rousseau, Godwin, Price and Adam Smith. It argues that the originality of Wollstonecraft's position resides in the way she understands the role of the imagination in ethical reasoning.