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Virtue Ethics

Edited by Jason Kawall (Colgate University)
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Key works The essential work inspiring much of the virtue ethics tradition is Aristotle 2006.  Many consider David Hume 1751 and Adam Smith 1759) to provide important, sentimentalist virtue ethics in the early modern period.  Contemporary interest in virtue ethics is often traced to Elizabeth Anscombe's [Anscombe 1958: Modern Moral Philosophy 1958.  In the following decades key contemporary works appeared including Foot 1978, Pincoffs 1971, w#, Hursthouse, Slote, Swanton
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Virtue Ethics
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  1. David G. Attfield (1978). Motivation in Moral Education: The Case for Virtue. Journal of Moral Education 7 (3):158-165.
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  2. Marcia Baron (1997). Three Methods of Ethics: A Debate. Blackwell.
    Written in the form of a debate, this volume presents a clear survey and assessment of the main arguments, both for and against each of these three central ...
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  3. Elias Baumgarten (2001). Curiosity as a Moral Virtue. International Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (2):169-184.
    I argue that curiosity about the world deserves attention as a moral virtue, even apart from the role it may play in (the more generally praised) love of wisdom. First, close relationships and caring are reasonably considered part of a well-lived life, and curiosity is important for caring both about people and about things in the world. Second, curiosity helps us to define an appropriate way for persons to be affected by certain situations. Perhaps most important, curiosity can help one (...)
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  4. Donald Beggs (2003). The Idea of Group Moral Virtue. Journal of Social Philosophy 34 (3):457–474.
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  5. Sandrine Berges (2013). Rethinking Twelfth Century Ethics: The Contribution of Heloise. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (4):667-687.
    Twelfth-century ethics is commonly thought of as following a stoic in fl uence rather than an Aristotelian o ne. It is also assumed that these two schools are widely different, in particular with regards to the social aspect of the virtuous life. In this paper I argue that this picture is misleading and that Heloise of Argenteuil recognized that stoic ethics did not entail isolation but could be played out in a social context. I argue that her philosophical contribution does (...)
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  6. Brian Besong (2014). Being Appropriately Disgusted. Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (1):131-150.
    Empirical research indicates that feelings of disgust actually affect our moral beliefs and moral motivations. The question is, should they? Daniel Kelly argues that they should not. More particularly, he argues for what we may call the irrelevancy thesis and the anti-moralization thesis. According to the irrelevancy thesis, feelings of disgust should be given no weight when judging the moral character of an action (or norm, practice, outcome, or ideal). According to the anti-moralization thesis, feelings of disgust should not be (...)
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  7. Shoshana Brassfield (2013). Cartesian Virtue and Freedom: Introduction. Essays in Philosophy 14 (2):1.
  8. Mark Button (2005). "A Monkish Kind of Virtue"? For and Against Humility. Political Theory 33 (6):840 - 868.
    Over the past several decades, scholars of liberal and democratic theory have shown a heightened interest in the role that various virtues might play in promoting the good/free society. Yet within this recent "return" to the virtues, one quality that has been almost entirely left out of the discussion is humility. In this essay, I critically address this lacuna and offer a defense of a particular form of humility, what I call democratic humility. After considering a range of moral and (...)
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  9. Derek Clifford (2013). Limitations of Virtue Ethics in the Social Professions. Ethics and Social Welfare 8 (1):1-18.
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  10. James S. Fishkin (1989). Review: Patterns of Moral Complexity. [REVIEW] Political Theory 17 (1):153-156.
  11. Ea Goerner (1990). Goerner on Thomistic Natural Law-Reply. Political Theory 18 (4):650-655.
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  12. Dan Hicks (2014). A New Direction for Science and Values. Synthese 191 (14):3271-95.
    The controversy over the old ideal of “value-free science” has cooled significantly over the past decade. Many philosophers of science now agree that even ethical and political values may play a substantial role in all aspects of scientific inquiry. Consequently, in the last few years, work in science and values has become more specific: Which values may influence science, and in which ways? Or, how do we distinguish illegitimate from illegitimate kinds of influence? In this paper, I argue that this (...)
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  13. Tziporah Kasachkoff (2004). Reply to Cahn's "the Happy Immoralist". Journal of Social Philosophy 35 (1):20–20.
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  14. Sean McAleer (2013). Friendship, Perception, and Referential Opacity in Nicomachean Ethics IX.9. Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 16:362-374.
    This essay reconstructs and evaluates Aristotle's argument in Nicomachean Ethics IX.9 that the happy person needs friends, in which Aristotle combines his well-known claim that friends are other selves with the claim that human perception is meta-perceptual: the perceiving subject perceives its own existence. After exploring some issues in the logic of perception, the essay argues that Aristotle's argument for the necessity of friends is invalid since perception-verbs create referentially opaque contexts in which the substitution of co-referential terms fails.
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  15. Susan D. McCammon & Howard Brody (2012). How Virtue Ethics Informs Medical Professionalism. HEC Forum 24 (4):257-272.
    We argue that a turn toward virtue ethics as a way of understanding medical professionalism represents both a valuable corrective and a missed opportunity. We look at three ways in which a closer appeal to virtue ethics could help address current problems or issues in professionalism education—first, balancing professionalism training with demands for professional virtues as a prerequisite; second, preventing demands for the demonstrable achievement of competencies from working against ideal professionalism education as lifelong learning; and third, avoiding temptations to (...)
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  16. Gregory Mellema (1993). Quasi-Obligation and the Failure to Be Virtuous. Journal of Social Philosophy 24 (2):176-185.
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  17. Thaddeus Metz (2012). Communitarian Ethics and Work-Based Education: Some African Perspectives. In Paul Gibbs (ed.), Learning, Work and Practice: New Understandings. Springer. 191-206.
    I seek to answer questions about work-based education (WBE) that have been rarely posed, ethical ones such as: Is there reason to believe that WBE would tend to make better people (as opposed to make people better off)? That is, can we reasonably expect characteristic WBE learners to exhibit good character to a greater degree relative to non-WBE ones? On a social level, would systematic use of WBE noticeably promote justice, say, by effecting the right sort of reparation to those (...)
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  18. Thaddeus Metz (2012). Ethics in Aristotle and in Africa: Some Points of Contrast. Phronimon 13 (2):99-117.
    In this article I compare and, especially, contrast Aristotle’s conception of virtue with one typical of sub-Saharan philosophers. I point out that the latter is strictly other-regarding, and specifically communitarian, and contend that the former, while including such elements, also includes some self-regarding or individualist virtues, such as temperance and knowledge. I also argue that Aristotle’s conception of human excellence is more attractive than the sub-Saharan view as a complete account of how to live, but that the African conception is (...)
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  19. Ben Lazare Mijuskovic (2007). Virtue Ethics. Philosophy and Literature 31 (1):133-141.
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  20. J. Joseph Miller (2009). Aristotle, the Army, and Abu Ghraib : Torture and the Limits of Military Virtue Ethics. In Mark Evans (ed.), War, Terror, and Ethics. Nova Science Publishers, Inc..
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  21. Geoff Moore (2002). On the Implications of the Practice –Institution Distinction: Macintyre and the Application of Modern Virtue Ethics to Business. Business Ethics Quarterly 12 (1):19-32.
    Abstract: After exploring MacIntyre’s (1985) practice—institution distinction, the article demonstrates its applicability to business-as-practice and to corporations as institutions. It then considers the implications of MacIntyre’s schema to ethical schizophrenia, to the claim that the market is a source of the virtues and to the opposite claim that capitalism corrodes character. A fully worked out modern virtue ethics, based on MacIntyre’s work, is then established and the claim is made and substantiated that such an understanding of MacIntrye’s work revitalises it (...)
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  22. James G. Murphy (2009). Virtue Ethics and Christian Moral Reflection. In Enda McDonagh & Vincent MacNamara (eds.), An Irish Reader in Moral Theology: The Legacy of the Last Fifty Years. Columba Press.
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  23. Patrick E. Murphy (1999). Character and Virtue Ethics in International Marketing: An Agenda for Managers, Researchers and Educators. [REVIEW] Journal of Business Ethics 18 (1):107 - 124.
    This article examines the applicability of character and virtue ethics to international marketing. The historical background of this field, dimensions of virtue ethics and its relationship to other ethical theories are explained. Five core virtues – integrity, fairness, trust, respect and empathy – are suggested as especially relevant for marketing in a multicultural and multinational context. Implications are drawn for marketing scholars, practitioners and educators.
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  24. Martha C. Nussbaum (1999). Virtue Ethics: A Misleading Category? [REVIEW] Journal of Ethics 3 (3):163-201.
    Virtue ethics is standardly taught and discussed as a distinctive approach to the major questions of ethics, a third major position alongside Utilitarian and Kantian ethics. I argue that this taxonomy is a confusion. Both Utilitarianism and Kantianism contain treatments of virtue, so virtue ethics cannot possibly be a separate approach contrasted with those approaches. There are, to be sure, quite a few contemporary philosophical writers about virtue who are neither Utilitarians nor Kantians; many of these find inspiration in ancient (...)
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  25. Sven Nyholm (2012). On the Universal Law and Humanity Formulas. Dissertation, University of Michigan
    Whereas the universal law formula says to choose one’s basic guiding principles (or “maxims”) on the basis of their fitness to serve as universal laws, the humanity formula says to always treat the humanity in each person as an end, and never as a means only. Commentators and critics have been puzzled by Kant’s claims that these are two alternative statements of the same basic law, and have raised various objections to Kant’s suggestion that these are the most basic formulas (...)
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  26. Matthew B. O'Brien (2012). The Second-Person Perspective in Aquinas's Ethics: Virtues and Gifts. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  27. Justin Oakley (2001). Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles. Cambridge University Press.
    Professionals, it is said, have no use for simple lists of virtues and vices. The complexities and constraints of professional roles create peculiar moral demands on the people who occupy them, and traits that are vices in ordinary life are praised as virtues in the context of professional roles. Should this disturb us, or is it naive to presume that things should be otherwise? Taking medical and legal practice as key examples, Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking develop a rigorous articulation (...)
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  28. Justin Oakley (1996). Varieties of Virtue Ethics. Ratio 9 (2):128-152.
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  29. Edmund D. Pellegrino (2002). Medical Evidence and Virtue Ethics: A Commentary on Zarkovich and Upshur. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 23 (4-5):397-402.
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  30. Roy W. Perrett & John Patterson (1991). Virtue Ethics and Maori Ethics. Philosophy East and West 41 (2):185-202.
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  31. Alan E. Armstrong rn phd (2006). Towards a Strong Virtue Ethics for Nursing Practice. Nursing Philosophy 7 (3):110–124.
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  32. Vincent A. Punzo (1996). After Kohlberg: Virtue Ethics and the Recovery of the Moral Self. Philosophical Psychology 9 (1):7 – 23.
    A resurgence of interest in virtue ethics has engendered new insight into the fundamental link between selfhood and morality. In contradistinction to the currently ascendant justice-reasoning research paradigm, it appears that a virtue ethics approach to moral psychology provides a theoretical framework which is amenable to the empirical investigation of the nature and formation of the moral self. Six primary features of virtue ethics are delineated with a unifying emphasis throughout on the inextricable link between virtue and moral selfhood. Questions (...)
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  33. Daniel Putman (1997). The Intellectual Bias of Virtue Ethics. Philosophy 72 (280):303 - 311.
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  34. Ruth Anna Putnam (1988). Reciprocity and Virtue Ethics:Reciprocity. Lawrence C. Becker. Ethics 98 (2):379-.
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  35. Jennifer Radden (2007). Virtue Ethics as Professional Ethics: The Case of Psychiatry. In Rebecca L. Walker & P. J. Ivanhoe (eds.), Working Virtue: Virtue Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems. Oxford University Press. 113--134.
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  36. William Ransome (2010). Is Agent-Based Virtue Ethics Self-Undermining? Ethical Perspectives 17 (1):41-57.
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  37. Lisa Raphals (2008). Material Virtue: Ethics and the Body in Early China – by Mark Csikszentmihalyi. Journal of Chinese Philosophy 35 (3):523-525.
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  38. William Rehg & Darin Davis (2003). Conceptual Gerrymandering? The Alignment of Hursthouse's Naturalistic Virtue Ethics with Neo-Kantian Non-Naturalism. Southern Journal of Philosophy 41 (4):583-600.
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  39. Patrick Riordan (2010). Transforming Conflict Through Insight. By Kenneth R. Melchin and Cheryl A. Picard and Love and Objectivity in Virtue Ethics: Aristotle, Lonergan, and Nussbaum on Emotions and Moral Insight. By Robert J. Fitterer and The Relevance of Bernard Lonergan's Notion of Self-Appropriation to a Mystical-Political Theology. By Ian B. Bell and The Subjective Dimension of Human Work: The Conversion of the Acting Person According to Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II and Bernard Lonergan. By Deborah Savage. [REVIEW] Heythrop Journal 51 (2):356-359.
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  40. Daniel C. Russell (2008). That “Ought” Does Not Imply “Right”: Why It Matters for Virtue Ethics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 46 (2):299-315.
    Virtue ethicists sometimes say that a right action is what a virtuous person would do, characteristically, in the circumstances. But some have objected recently that right action cannot be defined as what a virtuous person would do in the circumstances because there are circumstances in which a right action is possible but in which no virtuous person would be found. This objection moves from the premise that a given person ought to do an action that no virtuous person would do, (...)
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  41. Carla Saenz (2010). Virtue Ethics and the Selection of Children with Impairments: A Reply to Rosalind McDougall. Bioethics 24 (9):499-506.
    In ‘Parental Virtues: A New Way of Thinking about the Morality of Reproductive Actions’ Rosalind McDougall proposes a virtue-based framework to assess the morality of child selection. Applying the virtue-based account to the selection of children with impairments does not lead, according to McDougall, to an unequivocal answer to the morality of selecting impaired children. In ‘Impairment, Flourishing, and the Moral Nature of Parenthood,’ she also applies the virtue-based account to the discussion of child selection, and claims that couples with (...)
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  42. R. Sandler & P. Cafaro (eds.) (2005). Environmental Virtue Ethics. Rowman & Littlefield.
    The first on the topic of environmental virtue ethics, this book seeks to provide the definitive anthology that will both establish the importance of ...
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  43. Ronald Sandler (2005). A Response to Martin Calkins's “How Casuistry and Virtue Ethics Might Break the Ideological Stalemate Troubling Agricultural Biotechnology”. Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (2):319-327.
    Martin Calkins proposes the “combined use of casuistry and virtue ethics as a way for both sides to move ahead on [the] pressing issue [of agricultural biotechnology].” However, his defense of this methodology relies on a set of mistaken, albeit familiar, claims regarding the normative resources of virtue ethics: (1) virtue ethics is egoistic; (2) virtue ethics cannot defend any particular account of the virtues as the objectively correct ones and is therefore inextricably relativistic; (3) virtue ethics cannot supply a (...)
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  44. Ronald Sandler (2003). The External Goods Approach to Environmental Virtue Ethics. Environmental Ethics 25 (3):279-293.
    If virtue ethics are to provide a legitimate alternative for reasoning about environmental issues, they must meet the same conditions of adequacy as any other environmental ethic. One such condition that most environmental ethicists insist upon is that an adequate environmental ethic provides a theoretical platform for consistent and justified critique of environmentally unsustainable practices and policies. The external goods approach seeks to establish that any genuinely virtuous agent will be disposed to promote ecosystem sustainability on the grounds that ecosystem (...)
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  45. Gerasimos Santas (1996). The Structure of Aristotle's Ethical Theory: Is It Teleological or a Virtue Ethics? Topoi 15 (1):59-80.
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  46. Geoffrey Scarre (2013). The Continence of Virtue. Philosophical Investigations 36 (1):1-19.
    Many recent writers in the virtue ethics tradition have followed Aristotle in arguing for a distinction between virtue and continence, where the latter is conceived as an inferior moral condition. In this paper I contend that rather than seeking to identify a sharp categorical difference between virtue and continence, we should see the contrast as rather one of degree, where virtue is a continence that has matured with practice and habit, becoming more stable, effective and self-aware.
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  47. Erick W. Schmidt (2011). A Virtue Ethics Response to Henley on Hume, Aristotle and the Situationist Challenge. Southwest Philosophy Review 27 (2):27-32.
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  48. Robert F. J. Seddon (2008). Daniel C. Russell, Practical Intelligence and the Virtues. [REVIEW] Philosophical Writings (38/39).
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  49. Derek Sellman (2006). Virtue Ethics and Professional Roles. Nursing Philosophy 7 (2):106–107.
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  50. Bill Shaw (1997). A Virtue Ethics Approach to Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic. Environmental Ethics 19 (1):53-67.
    I examine “The Land Ethic” by Aldo Leopold from a virtue ethics perspective. Following Leopold, I posit the “good” as the “integrity, stability, and beauty” of biotic communities and then develop “land virtues” that foster this good. I recommend and defend three land virtues: respect (or ecological sensitivity), prudence, and practical judgment.
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