Virtue ethics and right action

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):324 – 339 (2003)
In this paper I evaluate some recent virtue-ethical accounts of right action [Hursthouse 1999; Slote 2001; Swanton 2001]. I argue that all are vulnerable to what I call the insularity objection : evaluating action requires attention to worldly consequences external to the agent, whereas virtue ethics is primarily concerned with evaluating an agent's inner states. More specifically, I argue that insofar as these accounts are successful in meeting the insularity objection they invite the circularity objection : they end up relying upon putatively virtue-ethical considerations that themselves depend on unexplained judgments of rightness. Such accounts thus face a dilemma that is characteristic of virtue-ethical accounts of right action. They avoid the insularity objection only at the cost of inviting the circularity objection: they become intuitively plausible roughly to the extent that they lose their distinctively virtue-ethical character.
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DOI 10.1080/713659702
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Daniel Doviak (2011). A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (3):259-272.
Paul Barry (2016). Schizophrenia and the Virtues of Self-Effacement. Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 11 (1):29-48.
David Heyd (2015). Can Virtue Ethics Account for Supererogation? Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 77:25-47.
Joseph P. Walsh (2016). Agent-Basing, Consequences, and Realized Motives. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):649-661.

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