Species Extinction and the Vice of Thoughtlessness: The Importance of Spiritual Exercises for Learning Virtue [Book Review]

In this paper, I present a sample spiritual exercise—a contemporary form of the written practice that ancient philosophers used to shape their characters. The exercise, which develops the ancient practice of the examination of conscience, is on the sixth mass extinction and seeks to understand why the extinction appears as a moral wrong. It concludes by finding a vice in the moral character of the author and the author’s society. From a methodological standpoint, the purpose of spiritual exercises is to create a habit of thoughtfulness in the writer, and by way of teaching, to suggest one to the reader. Such a habit is important, at least, because virtue is a habit. In other words, there can be no learning of virtue itself without habituation into it. Accordingly, I frame the sample spiritual exercise with a deliberately controversial objection to contemporary academic virtue ethics and with a justification for why the spiritual exercise is important for taking virtue ethically. And I end the paper with some further remarks explaining the form of the exercise and its relevance to doing philosophy. In this way, the paper makes and illustrates a methodological point about virtue ethics based on a meta-ethical assumption about virtue as a habit, and it does this by focusing on a pressing environmental problem in the twenty-first century
Keywords Species extinction  Sixth mass extinction  Virtue theory  Spiritual exercises  Meta-ethics  Meta-philosophy
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10806-009-9190-5
 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
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,191
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 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
For-Profit Business as Civic Virtue.Jason Brennan - 2012 - Journal of Business Ethics 106 (3):313-324.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Introduction: Virtue and Vice.Heather Battaly - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1):1-21.
Virtue as the Basis of Engineering Ethics.Douglas J. Crawford-Brown - 1997 - Science and Engineering Ethics 3 (4):481-489.
Kant's Conception of Virtue.Lara Denis - 2006 - In Paul Guyer (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Kant and Modern Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.
Right Act, Virtuous Motive.Thomas Hurka - 2010 - In Heather D. Battaly (ed.), Virtue and Vice, Moral and Epistemic. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 58-72.
Virtue as a Skill.Julia Annas - 1995 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 3 (2):227 – 243.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

62 ( #85,004 of 2,172,602 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #172,670 of 2,172,602 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums