Some problems with virtue theory

Philosophy 82 (2):275-299 (2007)
Abstract: I examine virtue theory, especially as expressed by Rosalind Hursthouse. In its canonical form, the theory claims that living a life of virtue constitutes flourishing, although it also has a possible fall-back claim that a life of virtue is a means to the end of flourishing. I argue that in both interpretations, virtue theory is mistaken. It cannot give any convincing account of how the concepts of wanting, flourishing, and the virtues are connected, nor can it deal adequately with the counter-examples of flourishing by the wicked, and torment for the virtuous. However, I allow that stripped of all its pretensions to universality, there are grounds for some people in some restricted sets circumstances, to follow the path of virtue solely because they will thereby flourish.
Keywords virtue theory  ethics  flourishing  Hursthouse
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DOI 10.1017/S0031819107320044
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