An unsolved problem for Slote's agent-based virtue ethics

Philosophical Studies 111 (1):53 - 67 (2002)
According to Slote's ``agent-based'' virtue ethics, the rightness orwrongness of an act is determined by the motive it expresses. Thistheory has a problem with cases where an agent can do her duty onlyby expressing some vicious motive and thereby acting wrongly. In sucha situation, an agent can only act wrongly; hence, the theory seemsincompatible with the maxim that `ought' implies `can'. I argue thatSlote's attempt to circumvent this problem by appealing to compatibilism is inadequate. In a wide range of psychologically realistic cases, an agent's effective choice will be between failingto do her duty and doing it from inferior motives. Then anythingshe can do will be wrong, according to the agent-based theory,contrary to the maxim Slote wishes to preserve.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy of Mind   Philosophy of Religion
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Daniel Doviak (2011). A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):259-272.

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