“Virtuejurisprudence” is a normative and explanatory theory of law that utilises the resources of virtue ethics to answer the central questions of legal theory. The main focus of this essay is the development of a virtue–centred theory of judging. The exposition of the theory begins with exploration of defects in judicial character, such as corruption and incompetence. Next, an account of judicial virtue is introduced. This includes judicial wisdom, a form of phronesis, or sound (...) practical judgement. A virtue–centred account of justice is defended against the argument that theories of fairness are prior to theories of justice. The centrality of virtue as a character trait can be drawn out by analysing the virtue of justice into constituent elements. These include judicial impartiality (even–handed sympathy for those affected by adjudication) and judicial integrity (respect for the law and concern for its coherence). The essay argues that a virtue–centred theory accounts for the role that virtuous practical judgement plays in the application of rules to particular fact situations. Moreover, it contends that a virtue–centred theory of judging can best account for the phenomenon of lawful judicial disagreement. Finally, a virtue–centred approach best accounts for the practice of equity, departure from the rules based on the judge’s appreciation of the particular characteristics of individual fact situations. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
This book is the first authoritative text on virtuejurisprudence - the belief that the final end of law is not to maximize preference satisfaction or protect certain rights and privileges, but to promote human flourishing. Scholars of law, philosophy and politics illustrate here the value of the virtue ethics tradition to modern legal theory.
The use of the term "applied ethics" to denote a particular field of moral inquiry (distinct from but related to both normative ethics and meta-ethics) is a relatively new phenomenon. The individuation of applied ethics as a special division of moral investigation gathered momentum in the 1970s and 1980s, largely as a response to early twentieth- century moral philosophy's overwhelming concentration on moral semantics and its apparent inattention to practical moral problems that arose in the wake of significant social and (...) technological transformations. The field of applied ethics is now a well established, professional domain sustained by institutional research centers, professional academic appointments, and devoted journals. As the field of applied ethics grew and developed, its contributors predominantly advocated consequentialist and deontological approaches to the problems they address; but lately a significant number of moral philosophers have begun to bring the resources of virtue ethics to bear upon the ever-evolving subject matters of applied ethics. (shrink)
The problem : commerce and corruption -- Smith's defense of commercial society -- What is corruption? : political and psychological perspectives -- Smith on corruption : from the citizen to the human being -- The solution : moral philosophy -- Liberal individualism and virtue ethics -- Social science vs. moral philosophy -- Types of moral philosophy : natural jurisprudence vs. ethics -- Types of ethics : utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics -- Virtue ethics : modern, ancient, (...) and Smithean -- Interlude : the what and the how of TMS VI -- The what : Sith's "practical system of morality" -- The how : rhetoric, audience, and the methods of practical ethics -- The how : the ascent of self-love in three stages -- Prudence or commercial virtue -- The challenge : from praise to prudence -- Educating the vain : fathers and sons -- Self-interest rightly understood -- The advantages and disadvantages of prudence -- Magnanimity or classical virtue -- The problems of prudence and the therapy of magnanimity -- Up from individualism : desert, praiseworthiness, conscience -- Modernity, antiquity, and magnanimity -- The dangers of magnanimity -- Beneficence or christian virtue -- Between care and caritas -- Benevolence and beneficence and the human telos -- The character and purposes of the wise and virtuous man -- Wisdom and virtue and Adam Smith's apology -- Epilogue: The "economy of greatness". (shrink)
In a series of powerful and challenging articles emerging since the mid-1990s, Brian Leiter has argued that certain theoretical strains in contemporary legal philosophy are â€˜epistemologically bankruptâ€™, in virtue of their reliance on misguided argumentative devices: analysing concepts, such as the concepts of law and of authority; and doing so by appealing to intuitions regarding the correct way to understand the concepts in question. In response to this state of affairs, Leiter advocates that jurisprudence ought to attempt to (...) catch-up with â€˜naturalisticâ€™ developments which have influenced the direction of other branches of philosophy â€“ such as epistemology, philosophy of mind, and moral philosophy â€“ in the last few decades. This article offers a critical analysis of some of Leiterâ€™s proposals for what Jurisprudence should become, in light of his views on the relevance of naturalism for this discipline. (shrink)
In section one, I briefly review the Harman/Doris argument and outline the most promising response. Then in section two I develop what I take the real challenge to virtue ethics to be. The final section of the chapter suggests two strategies for beginning to address this challenge.
In his new book, The Grammar of Criminal Law: American, Comparative, and International, celebrated criminal law theorist George Fletcher excavates criminal law doctrine across a number of countries and cultures to reveal a small number of basic shared structures. Among these structures Fletcher argues that it is a criminal law justified by Kantian legal morality, in contrast to perfectionist or communitarian theories, that is legitimate. Thus, Fletcher proposes, along with legal positivists, that the validity of legal norms does not turn (...) on the moral claims that may underlie a perfectionist or virtue theory of law. Fletcher's claims about the shared structure of law do more than propose an analytical model of valid criminal law. Most importantly, Fletcher draws attention to the often under explored normative implications of proposed models of law in analytical jurisprudence. Virtue theories of law challenge Fletcher's view of legitimate criminal law by proposing a fundamentally different jurisprudential model of valid law. Rather than liberalism's commitment to preserving autonomy or the neutrality of the state as primary, virtue theories forward competing models of law grounded in preserving sound practical reason or the promotion of human flourishing. And while these models find a distinct and mediated role for morality to play in the determination of legitimate law, they ultimately deny Fletcher's claim that morality cannot be incorporated into law without being referenced by the law and that our political commitments must precede our moral commitments. This article places Fletcher's model of criminal law within the positivist jurisprudential landscape and connects that model of law to Kantian legal duties. The piece then explores the particular resources virtue theories of law forwarded by Lawrence Solum and Kyron Huigens have to address the role of political concerns within a virtue theory of law. It examines whether a sophisticated virtue theory finds a place for political concerns that are sufficient to defeat liberal philosophical critiques and undermine Fletcher's claims for criminal law. More importantly, rather than simply exploring the competing jurisprudential models, this article explores the important normative commitments that stem from competing jurisprudential models. Ultimately, the article concludes that understanding certain factors about the very nature of law generally and criminal law particularly leads one to affirm Fletcher's claims and limits the justification of law to our deontic duties. (shrink)
The author of the paper considers the influence of the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court as the only official entity entitled to interpret the Constitution on the criminal procedure. The paper contains the review the following three trends of impact of the constitutional jurisprudence: influence on the legislature in criminal procedure law, influence on the practice of implementation of criminal procedural law and on the science of criminal procedural law. The paper mostly relies on the works by professionals (...) in the field of constitutional law, including publications by prof. dr. Juozas Žilys, the first Chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania and the former dean of the Law Faculty of Mykolas Romeris University, as the area of criminal procedure has so far included only several publications, the direct objective of which was to study issues on the constitutionalisation of criminal procedure. (shrink)
Legal philosophers have been preoccupied with specifying the differences between two systems of normative guidance that are omnipresent in all modern human societies: law and morality. Positivists propose a solution to this ‘Demarcation Problem’ according to which the legal validity of a norm cannot depend on its being morally valid, either in all or at least some possible legal systems. The proposed analysis purports to specify the essential and necessary features of law in virtue of which this is true. (...) Yet, the concept of law is an ‘artefact concept’, that is, a concept that picks out a phenomenon that necessarily owes its existence to human activities intended to create it. Artefact concepts, even simple ones like ‘chair’, are notoriously resistant to analyses in terms of their essential attributes, precisely because they are hostages to human ends and purposes, and also cannot be individuated by their natural properties. Twentieth-century philosophy of science dealt with a kindred Demarcation Problem: how to demarcate epistemically reliable forms of inquiry from epistemically unreliable ones, that is, how to demarcate science from pseudo-science or nonsense. Like the legal philosophers, they sought to identify the essential properties of a human artefact (namely, science). They failed, and spectacularly so, which led some philosophers to wonder, ‘Why does solving the Demarcation Problem matter?’ This essay develops the lessons for legal philosophy from this episode and its philosophical aftermath, and concludes that, in order not to become embroiled in pointless Fullerian speculations about the effects of jurisprudential doctrines on behaviour, we should abandon the Demarcation Problem in jurisprudence. (shrink)
The article describes the history of Mykolas Romeris University periodical science journal “Jurisprudence”. The principal characteristics describing “Jurisprudence” as well as the content of the journal are discussed in the article. The “Jurisprudence” of today is a modern tribune that helps the scientists of Mykolas Romeris University and other educational institutions as well as the scientists of foreign countries to present to the society the findings of various scientific works in the sphere of research of fundamental and (...) applicable legal science. The journal has been officially granted the status of prestigious publication that embodies the acknowledgement of the publications for the authors of the articles published in the journal while claiming for the scientific degree or pedagogical title. The publications of this journal are reflected in the notorious international data bases. During the past twenty years, 132 tomes of “Jurisprudence”, that overwhelms more than 2100 printer’s sheets, have been published. Approximately 1900 scientific articles in Lithuanian, English, German, French, Polish and Russian have been published. The genuine popularity and the social utility of the substance published in the journal is apparent not as much from the edition of the traditional paper version of the journal as from the data, showing the numbers of users downloading the electronic version of the articles of the journal that mostly reach the four-figure numbers, sometimes extending to five or six thousand. Some attention in the article is paid to discuss the primal problematics of legal science reflected in the pages of “Jurisprudence” as well as to describe the contribution of the authors of the articles. The content of the journal allows us to ascertain the variety of publications announced, as they overwhelm practically all the classical branches of legal science. The journal analyses the conceptual matters as well as solves the specific problems dictated by practice. Most of the articles published in the journal are oriented to the primal legal problems of a particular period, raise and analyse problematical questions relevant to both science and practice as well as correspond to the novelties of legal regulation in Lithuania. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that the negative injunctions against certain ways of conceiving of the ethico-political that we can draw explicitly from the methodological strictures of phenomenology are also consistent with some of the core more positive dimensions of contemporary virtue ethics (especially at the more anti-theoretical end of the virtue ethical spectrum), and that central aspects of virtue ethics are consistent with most of the explicit reflections on ethical matters proffered by canonical phenomenologists.
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. (shrink)
Virtue ethics has been challenged on empirical grounds by philosophical interpreters of situationist social psychology. Challenges are necessarily challenges to something or other, so it’s only possible to understand the situationist challenge to virtue ethics if we have an antecedent grasp on virtue ethics itself. To this end, I first identify the non-negotiable “hard core” of virtue ethics with the conjunction of nine claims, arguing that virtue ethics does make substantive empirical assumptions about human conduct. (...) Next, I rearticulate the situationist challenge in light of these nine claims. I then turn to a discussion of specifications of several responses typically made by defenders of virtue ethics against the situationist challenge, arguing that most of them either are unsound or give up one of the elements in the hard core. A few, however, survive this criticism, and so I conclude by suggesting ways in which the situationist challenge might be not so much resisted as co-opted. Situational influences can be used to help people simulate virtue, a phenomenon I call factitious virtue. (shrink)
Situationists argue that virtue ethics is empirically untenable, since traditional virtue ethicists postulate broad, efficacious character traits, and social psychology suggests that such traits do not exist. I argue that prominent philosophical replies to this challenge do not succeed. But cross-cultural research gives reason to postulate character traits, and this undermines the situationist critique. There is, however, another empirical challenge to virtue ethics that is harder to escape. Character traits are culturally informed, as are our ideals of (...) what traits are virtuous, and our ideals of what qualifies as well-being. If virtues and well-being are culturally constructed ideals, then the standard strategy for grounding the normativity of virtue ethics in human nature is undermined. (shrink)
What is it like to be a good person? I examine and reject suggestions that this will involve having thoughts which have virtue or being a good person as part of their content, as well as suggestions that it might be the presence of feelings distinct from the virtuous person’s thoughts. Is there, then, anything after all to the phenomenology of virtue? I suggest that an answer is to be found in looking to Aristotle’s suggestion that virtuous activity (...) is pleasant to the virtuous person. I try to do this, using the work of the contemporary social psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and his work on the ‘flow experience’. Crucial here is the point that I consider accounts of virtue which take it to have the structure of a practical expertise or skill. It is when we are most engaged in skilful complex activity that the activity is experienced as ‘unimpeded’, in Aristotle’s terms, or as ‘flow’. This experience does not, as might at first appear, preclude thoughtful involvement and reflection. Although we can say what in general the phenomenology of virtue is like, each of us only has some more or less dim idea of it from the extent to which we are virtuous—that is, for most of us, not very much. (shrink)
Abstract: The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtue ethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtue ethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtue ethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the mean is (...) described, and it is explained how that doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtue epistemology based on analogies with virtue ethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
Moral luck poses a problem for out conception of responsibility because it highlights a tension between morality and lack of control. Michael Slote’s common-sense virtue ethics claims to avoid this problem. However there are a number of objections to this claim. Firstly, it is not clear that Slote fully appreciates the problem posed by moral luck. Secondly, Slote’s move from the moral to the ethical is problematic. Thirdly it is not clear why we should want to abandon judgements of (...) moral blame in favour of judgements of ethical deplorability. Finally this paper defends an alternative solution to the problem of moral luck, which focuses on judgements of probability, but which has been rejected by Slote. (shrink)
This essay explicates and evaluates the roles that fetal metaphysics and moral status play in Rosalind Hursthouse’s abortion ethics. It is motivated by Hursthouse’s puzzling claim in her widely anthologized paper Virtue Ethics and Abortion that fetal moral status and (by implication) its underlying metaphysics are in a way, fundamentally irrelevant to her position. The essay clarifies the roles that fetal ontology and moral status do in fact play in her abortion ethics. To this end, it presents and then (...) develops her fetal metaphysics of the potential and actual human being, which she merely adumbrates in her more extensive treatment of abortion ethics in her book Beginning Lives. The essay then evaluates her fetal ontology in light of relevant research on fetal neural and psychological development. It concludes that her implied view that the late-stage fetus is an actual human being is defensible. The essay then turns to the analysis of late-stage abortions in her paper and argues that it is importantly incomplete. (shrink)
Abstract Do the central aims of epistemology, like those of moral philosophy, require that we designate some important place for those concepts located between the thin-normative and the non-normative? Put another way, does epistemology need ?thick? evaluative concepts? There are inveterate traditions in analytic epistemology which, having legitimized a certain way of viewing the nature and scope of epistemology's subject matter, give this question a negative verdict; further, they have carried with them a tacit commitment to what we argue to (...) be an epistemic analogue of the reductionistic centralist thesis that Bernard Williams in our view successfully challenged in ethics. In this essay, we challenge these traditional dogmas and in doing so align ourselves with what has been recently called the ?Value Turn? in epistemology. From this perspective, we defend that, contrary to tradition, epistemology does need thick evaluative concepts. Further, the sort of theories that will be able to give thick evaluative concepts a deservedly central role in both belief and agent evaluation are those non-centralist projects that fall within what we call the second-wave of virtue epistemology. We recognize that, in breaking from centralism, there is a worry that a resulting anti-centralist theory will be reductionistic in the other direction- making the thick primary. We contend however that second-wave virtue epistemologies should be thought to provide the wave of the right thickness, and as such, constitute the most promising approaches within a field that has become increasingly more normative, diverse and expansive than was the traditional set of problems from which it emerged. (shrink)
This paper represents two polemics. One is against suggestions (made by Harman and others) that recent psychological research counts against any claim that there is such a thing as genuine virtue (Cf. Harman, in: Byrne, Stalnaker, Wedgwood (eds.) Fact and value, pp 117–127, 2001 ). The other is against the view that virtue ethics should be seen as competing against such theories as Kantian ethics or consequentialism, particularly in the specification of decision procedures.
In this paper I examine and reply to a deflationary challenge brought against virtue ethics. The challenge comes from critics who are impressed by recent psychological evidence suggesting that much of what we take to be virtuous conduct is in fact elicited by narrowly specific social settings, as opposed to being the manifestation of robust individual character. In answer to the challenge, I suggest a conception of virtue that openly acknowledges the likelihood of its deep, ongoing dependence upon (...) particular social relationships and settings. I argue that holding this conception will indeed cause problems for some important strands of thought in virtue ethics, most notably in the tradition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. But an approach to virtue ethics modeled on David Hume's treatment of virtue and character in A Treatise of Human Nature promises to escape these problems. (shrink)
Most forms of virtue ethics are characterized by two attractive features. The first is that proponents of virtue ethics acknowledge the need to describe how moral agents acquire or develop the traits and abilities necessary to become morally able agents. The second attractive feature of most forms of virtue ethics is that they are forms of moral realism. The two features come together in the attempt to describe virtue as a personal ability to distinguish morally good (...) reasons for action. It follows from the general picture of virtue ethics presented here that we cannot evaluate ethical judgment independently of the viewpoint of the ideal of a virtuous person. We will examine how this ideal unfolds in the realistic form of virtue ethics advanced by John McDowell. McDowell offers a compelling description of virtue as a natural ability grounded in human nature, while at the same time insisting that we cannot understand the judgment resulting from virtue without drawing on that very perspective. However, McDowell’s focus on the passive taking in of reasons in ethical experience and his idea of the silencing of wrong reasons lead us to three related problems. The first is that he cannot account for certain features of the phenomenology of such experience; the second is that he cannot provide any relevant epistemological criteria for correct moral judgment; and the third is that he gives a morally objectionable characterization of the ideal of being a virtuous person. All of these problems arise because McDowell does not take into account the particular nature of ethical experience. If we try to resolve this problem by dropping McDowell’s idea of silencing, we then have to offer another substantial description of our ideal of a virtuous person that includes active and interpersonal ways of evaluating concrete judgments. Proponents of virtue ethics still have to lift this task and develop a position that does not limit ethical experience to the passive intake of reasons. (shrink)
Abstract: The perceptual model of emotions maintains that emotions involve, or are at least analogous to, perceptions of value. On this account, emotions purport to tell us about the evaluative realm, in much the same way that sensory perceptions inform us about the sensible world. An important development of this position, prominent in recent work by Peter Goldie amongst others, concerns the essential role that virtuous habits of attention play in enabling us to gain perceptual and evaluative knowledge. I think (...) that there are good reasons to be sceptical about this picture of virtue. In this essay I set out these reasons, and explain the consequences this scepticism has for our understanding of the relation between virtue, emotion, and attention. In particular, I argue that our primary capacity for recognizing value is in fact a non-emotional capacity. (shrink)
This article traces a growing interest among epistemologists in the intellectuals of epistemic virtues. These are cognitive dispositions exercised in the formation of beliefs. Attempts to give intellectual virtues a central normative and/or explanatory role in epistemology occur together with renewed interest in the ethics/epistemology analogy, and in the role of intellectual virtue in Aristotle's epistemology. The central distinction drawn here is between two opposed forms of virtue epistemology, virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. The article develops (...) the shared and distinctive claims made by contemporary proponents of each form, in their respective treatments of knowledge and justification. (shrink)
Abstract Truth-telling is a key issue within the nurse–patient relationship. Nurses make decisions on a daily basis regarding what information to tell patients. This paper analyses truth-telling within an end of life scenario. Virtue ethics provides a useful philosophical approach for exploring decisions on information disclosure in more detail. Virtue ethics allows appropriate examination of the moral character of the nurse involved, their intention, ability to use wisdom and judgement when making decisions and the virtue of truth-telling. (...) It is appropriate to discuss nursing as a 'practice' in relation to virtue ethics. This is achieved through consideration of the implications of arguments made by Alasdair MacIntyre who believes that qualities such as honesty, courage and justice are virtues because they enable us to achieve the internal goods of practices. (shrink)
This important collection of essays includes Professor Hart's first defense of legal positivism; his discussion of the distinctive teaching of American and Scandinavian jurisprudence; an examination of theories of basic human rights and the notion of "social solidarity," and essays on Jhering, Kelsen, Holmes, and Lon Fuller.
Duncan Pritchard has, in the years following his (2005) defence of a safety-based account of knowledge in Epistemic Luck, abjured his (2005) view that knowledge can be analysed exclusively in terms of a modal safety condition. He has since (Pritchard in Synthese 158:277–297, 2007; J Philosophic Res 34:33–45, 2009a, 2010) opted for an account according to which two distinct conditions function with equal importance and weight within an analysis of knowledge: an anti-luck condition (safety) and an ability condition-the latter being (...) a condition aimed at preserving what Pritchard now takes to be a fundamental insight about knowledge: that it arises from cognitive ability (Greco 2010; Sosa 2007, 2009). Pritchard calls his new view anti-luck virtue epistemology (ALVE). A key premise in Pritchard’s argument for ALVE is what I call the independence thesis; the thesis that satisfying neither the anti-luck condition nor the ability condition entails that the other is satisfied. Pritchard’s argument for the independence thesis relies crucially upon the case he makes for thinking that cognitive achievements are compatible with knowledge-undermining environmental luck—that is, the sort of luck widely thought to undermine knowledge in standard barn facade cases. In the first part of this paper, I outline the key steps in Pritchard’s argument for anti-luck virtue epistemology and highlight how it is that the compatibility of cognitive achievement and knowledge- undermining environmental luck is indispensible to the argument’s success. The second part of this paper aims to show that this compatibility premise crucial to Pritchard’s argument is incorrect. (shrink)
Standard characterizations of virtue epistemology divide the field into two camps: virtue reliabilism and virtue responsibilism. Virtue reliabilists think of intellectual virtues as reliable cognitive faculties or abilities, while virtue responsibilists conceive of them as good intellectual character traits. I argue that responsibilist character virtues sometimes satisfy the conditions of a reliabilist conception of intellectual virtue, and that consequently virtue reliabilists, and reliabilists in general, must pay closer attention to matters of intellectual character. (...) This leads to several new questions and (...) challenges for any reliabilist epistemology. (shrink)
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtue ethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtue ethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtue ethics; some (...) later criticisms of the revival of virtue ethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtue ethics. (shrink)
I argue that recent virtue theories (including those of Hursthouse, Slote, and Swanton) face important initial difficulties in accommodating the supererogatory. In particular, I consider several potential characterizations of the supererogatory modeled upon these familiar virtue theories (and their accounts of rightness) and argue that they fail to provide an adequate account of supererogation. In the second half of the paper I sketch an alternative virtue-based characterization of supererogation, one that is grounded in the attitudes of virtuous (...) ideal observers, and that avoids the concerns raised in the first part of the paper. (shrink)
Thomas Nagel has proposed that the existence of moral luck mandates a general attitude of skepticism in ethics. One popular way of arguing against Nagels claim is to insist that the phenomenon of moral luck itself is an illusion , in the sense that situations in which it seems to occur may be plausibly re-described so as to show that agents need not be held responsible for the unlucky outcomes of their actions. Here I argue that this strategy for explaining (...) away moral luck fails because it does not take account of the fact that agents in morally unlucky circumstances are uniformly subject to a very specific type of epistemic obligation. I then proceed to sketch out an alternative strategy for blocking the inference to skepticism, one that makes use of the distinctive explanatory resources provided by epistemic virtue theory. Key Words: moral luck moral skepticism Thomas Nagel virtue epistemology Linda Zagzebski. (shrink)
This paper identifies and criticizes certain fundamental commitments of virtue theories in epistemology. A basic question for virtues approaches is whether they represent a ‘third force’––a different source of normativity to internalism and externalism. Virtues approaches so-conceived are opposed. It is argued that virtues theories offer us nothing that can unify the internalist and externalist sub-components of their preferred success-state. Claims that character can unify a virtues-based axiology are overturned. Problems with the pluralism of virtues theories are identified––problems with (...) pluralism and the nature of the self; and problems with pluralism and the goals of epistemology. Moral objections to virtue theory are identified––specifically, both the idea that there can be a radical axiological priority to character and the anti-enlightenment tendencies in virtues approaches. Finally, some strengths to virtue theory are conceded, while the role of epistemic luck is identified as an important topic for future work. (shrink)
Abstract: In this essay I outline a radical kind of virtue theory I call exemplarism, which is foundational in structure but which is grounded in exemplars of moral goodness, direct reference to which anchors all the moral concepts in the theory. I compare several different kinds of moral theory by the way they relate the concepts of the good, a right act, and a virtue. In the theory I propose, these concepts, along with the concepts of a duty (...) and of a good life, are defined by reference to exemplars, identified directly through the emotion of admiration, not through a description. It is an advantage of the theory that what makes a good person good is not given a priori but is determined by empirical investigation. The same point applies to what good persons do and what states of affairs they aim at. The theory gives an important place to empirical investigation and narratives about exemplars analogous to the scientific investigation of natural kinds in the theory of direct reference. (shrink)
This paper explores what constitutes reliability in persons, particularly intellectual reliability. It considers global reliability , the overall reliability of persons, encompassing both the theoretical and practical realms; sectorial reliability , that of a person in a subject-matter (or behavioral) domain; and focal reliability , that of a particular element, such as a belief. The paper compares reliability with predictability of the kind most akin to it and distinguishes reliability as an intellectual virtue from reliability as an intellectual power. (...) The paper also connects reliability with insight, reasoning, knowledge, and trust. It is argued that insofar as reliability is an intellectual virtue, it must meet both external standards of correctitude and internal standards of justification. (shrink)
Philosophers have recently argued that traditional discussions of virtue and character presuppose an account of behaviour that experimental psychology has shown to be false. Behaviour does not issue from global traits such as prudence, temperance, courage or fairness, they claim, but from local traits such as sailing-in-rough-weather-with-friends-courage and office-party-temperance. The data employed provides evidence for this view only if we understand it in the light of a behaviourist construal of traits in terms of stimulus and response, rather than in (...) the light of the more traditional construal in terms of inner events such as inclinations. More recent experiments have shown this traditional conception to have greater explanatory and predictive power than its behaviourist rival. So we should retain the traditional conception, and hence reject the proposed alteration to our understanding of behaviour. This discussion has further implications for future philosophical investigations of character and virtue. Key Words: character traits • situationism • social psychology • virtue ethics. (shrink)
This paper discusses the viability of a virtue-based approach to bioethics. Virtue ethics is clearly appropriate to addressing issues of professional character and conduct. But another major remit of bioethics is to evaluate the ethics of biomedical procedures in order to recommend regulatory policy. How appropriate is the virtue ethics approach to fulfilling this remit? The first part of this paper characterizes the methodology problem in bioethics in terms of diversity, and shows that virtue ethics does (...) not simply restate this problem in its own terms. However, fatal objections to the way the virtue ethics approach is typically taken in bioethics literature are presented in the second section of the paper. In the third part, a virtue-based approach to bioethics that avoids the shortcomings of the typical one is introduced and shown to be prima facie plausible. The upshot is an inviting new direction for research into bioethics' methodology. (shrink)
According to the commonsense view of civic virtue, the places to exercise civic virtue are largely restricted to politics. In this article, I argue for a more expansive view of civic virtue, and argue that one can exercise civic virtue equally well through working for or running a for-profit business. I argue that this conclusion follows from four relatively uncontroversial premises: (1) the consensus definition of “civic virtue”, (2) the standard, most popular theory of virtuous (...) activity, (3) a conception of the common good widely shared by liberal political philosophers, and (4) the mainstream economic theory of for-profit business. (shrink)
In a number of recent papers Duncan Pritchard argues that virtue epistemology's central ability condition—one knows that p if and only if one has attained cognitive success (true belief) because of the exercise of intellectual ability—is neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. This paper discusses and dismisses a number of responses to Pritchard's objections and develops a new way of defending virtue epistemology against them.
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. (shrink)