Against metaethical imperialism: Several arguments for equal partnerships between the deontic and aretaic

Journal of Religious Ethics 38 (3):521-544 (2010)
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Virtue and deontological ethics are now commonly contrasted as rival approaches to moral inquiry. However, I argue that neither metaethical party should seek complete, solitary domination of the ethical domain. Reductive treatments of the right or the virtuous, as well as projects that abandon the former or latter, are bound to leave us with a sadly diminished map of the moral territories crucial to our lives. Thus, it is better for the two parties to seek a more cordial and equal relationship, one that permits metaethical pluralism, and acknowledges mutual dependence. I do not seek to prescribe how that relationship should look: this essay offers less a positive metaethical position than a prolegomenon to such a position, one that attempts to head off harmful attempts to reduce the territory of the aretaic to that of the deontic, or that of the deontic to the aretaic



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Jesse Couenhoven
Villanova University

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