Virtue ethics and right action

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (3):324 – 339 (2003)
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Abstract

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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Ramon Das
Victoria University of Wellington

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Morals from motives.Michael Slote - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press.
From morality to virtue.Michael Slote - 1992 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Roger Crisp & Michael A. Slote.
Morals from Motives.Michael Slote - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):415-418.
On Some Vices of Virtue Ethics.Robert Louden - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (3):227 - 236.

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