Cultivating Virtue

In Havi Carel & Darian Meacham (eds.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press 239-259 (2013)
Ought you to cultivate your own virtue? Various philosophers have argued that there is something suspect about directing one’s ethical attention towards oneself in this way. These arguments can be divided between those that deem aiming at virtue for its own sake to be narcissistic and those that consider aiming at virtue for the sake of good behaviour to involve a kind of doublethink. Underlying them all is the assumption that epistemic access to one’s own character requires an external point of view that is, in principle, available to anyone. If cultivating virtue is concerned with forming one’s dispositions, as these appear to the external point of view, then these charges of narcissism and doublethink can be brought. However, there is another kind of access to one’s own character. Since character is manifest in the practical structure of experience, reflection on that practical structure itself is reflection on one’s character. Neither the charge of narcissism nor the charge of doublethink can be brought against this phenomenological cultivation of the practical structure of experience. Although not sufficient alone to provide all the information required for the task, phenomenological reflection is essential to the ethical cultivation of virtue.
Keywords Virtue  Ethics  Phenomenology  Sartre
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DOI 10.1017/S1358246113000131
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