Virtue ethics and the search for an account of right action

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 13 (3):255 - 271 (2010)
Conceived of as a contender to other theories in substantive ethics, virtue ethics is often associated with, in essence, the following account or criterion of right action: VR: An action A is right for S in circumstances C if and only if a fully virtuous agent would characteristically do A in C. There are serious objections to VR, which take the form of counter-examples. They present us with different scenarios in which less than fully virtuous persons would be acting rightly in doing what no fully virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances. In this paper, various proposals for how to revise VR in order to avoid these counter-examples are considered. I will argue that in so far as the revised accounts really do manage to steer clear of the counter-examples to VR, something which it turns out is not quite true for all of them, they instead fall prey to other damaging objections. I end by discussing the future of virtue ethics, given what has come to light in the previous sections of the paper. In particular, I sketch the outlines of a virtue ethical account of rightness that is structurally different from VR. This account also faces important problems. Still, I suggest that further scrutiny is required before we are in a position to make a definitive decision about its fate.
Keywords Virtue ethics  Right action  Fully virtuous agent  Decent agent  Developmental account of virtue and right
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.2307/40835329
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,831
External links
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

View all 45 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

142 ( #12,884 of 1,724,748 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

15 ( #48,565 of 1,724,748 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.