Abstract The article argues that a consideration of the idea, common in ancient ethical theory, that virtue is a skill or craft, reveals that some common construals of it are mistaken. The analogy between virtue and skill is not meant to suggest that virtue is an unreflective habit of practised action. Rather what interests ancient ethical theorists is the intellectual structure of a skill, one demanding grasp of the principles defining the field and an ability to reflect on the justification of particular actions. This is brought out with reference particularly to the discussion of virtue as analogous with skill in Plato's early Socratic dialogues. The demands made of the virtuous agent by philosophers who regard virtue as analogous to skill are akin to the demands made by more recent theories of morality which demand that the moral agent be able to reflect on her practices, extract the principles that these depend on, and produce justification when needed. This point about ancient ethical theories enables us to appreciate their distance from modern versions of ?virtue ethics? ? which stress the importance of the traditions and contexts within which the content of the virtues is learned, and place less importance on the need for intellectual justification. The type of virtue ethics defended by Alasdair Maclntyre provides an instructive example of this contrasting kind of theory
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09672559508570812
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,214
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

Ethics and the Craft Analogy.James D. Wallace - 1988 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 13 (1):222-232.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Aristotle and Expertise: Ideas on the Skillfulness of Virtue.Noell Birondo - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (2):599-609.
Ethical Expertise: The Skill Model of Virtue.Matt Stichter - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (2):183-194.
Knowledge How.Jeremy Fantl - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Wisdom as an Expert Skill.Jason D. Swartwood - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):511-528.

View all 46 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Phenomenology of Virtue.Julia Annas - 2008 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):21-34.
The Skill of Virtue.Matthew Stichter - 2007 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 14 (2):39-49.
Virtues, Skills, and Right Action.Matt Stichter - 2011 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (1):73-86.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Happiness.Julia Annas - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Virtue Epistemology and the Epistemology of Virtue.Paul Bloomfield - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):23-43.
Virtue Ethics.Roger Crisp & Michael Slote (eds.) - 1997 - Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
333 ( #31,227 of 2,507,636 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
19 ( #45,422 of 2,507,636 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes