Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):277-288 (2011)
|Abstract||Virtue ethicists argue that modern ethical theories aim to give direct guidance about particular situations at the cost of offering artificial or narrow accounts of ethics. In contrast, virtue ethical theories guide action indirectly by helping one understand the virtues?but the theory will not provide answers as to what to do in particular instances. Recently, this had led many to think that virtue ethical theories are self-effacing the way some claim consequentialist and deontological theories are. In this paper I defend virtue ethics against the charge of self-effacement. I distinguish between modestly self-effacing theories, immodestly self-effacing theories and theories that recommend indirect guidance. Though all self-effacing theories are indirect, not all indirect theories are self-effacing. I argue that virtue ethics is not self-effacing, but rather indirectly action-guiding. The response I articulate draws on the distinctive virtue ethical mode of action-guidance: namely, that thinking hard about virtue and what kind of person one aims to be offers the kind of guidance we want (or should want) as we face practical moral problems|
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