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2009-12-08
Normative Ethics
I was quite surprised at seeing the results of the question on normative ethics. It appears that in every categorical population listed (i.e. graduate students, faculty or PhD) the answer that received the most attention is 'other.' I guess my first question is what the range of those other answers are, both within and outside of normative ethics.

Beyond that, it appears that virtue ethics has taken root more strongly in the younger crowd, which I am a part of, and I wanted to know if the reasoning for that is because of the way undergraduate departments are set up (I know I spent the better part of my "contemporary moral theory" class reading Anscombe, Foot, and McDowell), or if there is some consensus that virtue ethics is a belief which befalls the younger crowd and that we are all better philosophers when we are able to resurface. It also struck me as odd that in the target faculty group the difference between those subscribing to virtue ethics and those to deontology was vast, however in the overall faculty there was essentially no gap at all.



2009-12-09
Normative Ethics
Reply to Andrew Kunsak
Hi Andrew, you can see a breakdown of the "other" answers by changing the "response grain" to "medium" or "fine. 

2009-12-09
Normative Ethics
Reply to Andrew Kunsak
I am also quite surprised at seeing that virtue ethics has taken root more strongly in the younger people.

A possible explanation is the one Andrew Kunsak proposes: some universities spend lots of hours teaching virtue ethics at the undergraduates. However, the undergraduates also spend lots of hours learning deontologic ethics and consequentialist ethics, among others. And in some cases, like at University of Barcelona, the undergraduates learn much more deongologic and consequentialist ethics than virtue ethics. I don't know exactly which is the case in the other Faculties of Philosophy.

On the other hand, I can think of another explanation for this fact: the revival of virtue ethics is quite a recent one (name, as a starting point, Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy" at 1958). This means that:
1- it is likely to receive important attention among academics (who are not usually convinced by it) and therefore it is likely to be the subject of some undergraduate courses.
2- it is one of the positions the actual "newbies" can evaluate and choose
3- while it was not one of the positions that the 1950-80's "newbies" could evaluate and choose, or at least not in the same conditions between other alternatives like deontology ethics or consequentialism. And we must admit that for someone who have spend lots of years (let's say 10, 20, 30, 40 years) studying and developing some specific kind of ethics is not easy to change her mind (she probably needs very strong and convincing arguments that Virtue Ethics, because of its recent review, perhaps cannot offer -yet-).

- Will Virtue Ethics be able to offer the strong and convincing arguments that long-experienced academics need in order to change their mind in ethics?
- The young supporters of Virtue Ethics will maintain their position in next years and decades? If so, Virtue Ethics will become one of the 'decent' alternatives of ethic theory among academic staff?

I look forward to see the evolution that Virtue Ethics will have during next years and decades among students and academic staff. Perhaps it will gain more and more partisans among philosophers. Perhaps not.