Virtue ethics: A misleading category? [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Ethics 3 (3):163-201 (1999)
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 Greek theories of virtue. But even here there is little unity. Although certain concerns do unite this disparate group (a concern for the role of motives and passions in good choice, a concern for character, and a concern for the whole course of an agent''s life), there are equally profound disagreements, especially concerning the role that reason should play in ethics. One group of modern virtue-theorists, I argue, are primarily anti-Utilitarians, concerned with the plurality of value and the susceptibility of passions to social cultivation. These theorists want to enlarge the place of reason in ethics. They hold that reason can deliberate about ends as well as means, and that reason can modify the passions themselves. Another group of virtue theorists are primarily anti-Kantians. They believe that reason plays too dominant a role in most philosophical accounts of ethics, and that a larger place should be given to sentiments and passions -- which they typically construe in a less reason-based way than does the first group. The paper investigates these differences, concluding that it is not helpful to speak of virtue ethics, and that we would be better off characterizing the substantive views of each thinker -- and then figuring out what we ourselves want to say.
|Keywords||Aristotle ethics Hume Kant Kantianism Utilitarianism virtue|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Roger Crisp (forthcoming). A Third Method of Ethics? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Nora Hämäläinen (2009). Is Moral Theory Harmful in Practice?—Relocating Anti-Theory in Contemporary Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (5):539 - 553.
May Sim (2011). Rethinking Virtue Ethics and Social Justice with Aristotle and Confucius. Asian Philosophy 20 (2):195-213.
John M. Doris (2005). Replies: Evidence and Sensibility. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (3):656–677.
Thomas Alured Faunce & Hitoshi Nasu (2009). Normative Foundations of Technology Transfer and Transnational Benefit Principles in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (3):296-321.
Similar books and articles
Stephen Holland (2011). The Virtue Ethics Approach to Bioethics. Bioethics 25 (4):192-201.
Nicholas F. Gier (2004). Whitehead, Confucius, and the Aesthetics of Virtue. Asian Philosophy 14 (2):171 – 190.
Roger Crisp (2010). Virtue Ethics and Virtue Epistemology. Metaphilosophy 41 (1):22-40.
Simon Keller (2007). Virtue Ethics is Self-Effacing. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):221 – 231.
Yong Huang (2011). Two Dilemmas in Virtue Ethics and How Zhu Xi's Neo-Confucianism Avoids Them. Journal of Philosophical Research 36:247-281.
Stephen Holland (2010). Scepticism About the Virtue Ethics Approach to Nursing Ethics. Nursing Philosophy 11 (3):151-158.
Stephen Buckle (2002). Aristotle's Republic or, Why Aristotle's Ethics is Not Virtue Ethics. Philosophy 77 (4):565-595.
Jane Singleton (2002). Virtue Ethics, Kantian Ethics, and Consequentialism. Journal of Philosophical Research 27:537-551.
Roger Crisp & Michael A. Slote (eds.) (1997). Virtue Ethics. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads317 ( #1,280 of 1,413,358 )
Recent downloads (6 months)12 ( #17,861 of 1,413,358 )
How can I increase my downloads?