Dominic McIver Lopes, Mimesis and Moral Vision, Soundings 83 (2000) 801-21

A character in Henry James remarks of another that "he now at all events sees... the precious moral of everything, is just my demonstration of this process of seeing." James's description of the acquisition of moral knowledge as a process of coming to see is a metaphor, almost a cliché, but some philosophers have proposed to take the metaphor seriously. This paper takes the visual metaphor quite literally. Some art theorists claim that the medium of depiction thwarts serious moral thought. I argue that this is not true. Pictures may open up unique and valuable channels for moral thought. In order to discover whether pictures can have moral content, we must understand both the forms moral deliberation may take but also the workings and capabilities of pictures.