Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 23 (2):295-307 (2020)

Maria Silvia Vaccarezza
Università degli Studi di Genova
The recent discussions on the unity of virtue suffer from a lack of reference to the processes through which we interpret each other as moral agents. In the present paper it is argued that much light can be thrown on that crucial issue by appealing to a version of Donald Davidson’s Principle of Charity, which we call “Principle of Phronetic Charity”. The idea is that in order to treat somebody as a moral agent, one has first to attribute to them, at least pro tempore, a significant degree of practical wisdom and, then, to assess and rationally adjust such attribution of competence via actual engagement with them – a process that may lead to different responses on the part of the interpreter. After expounding and defending the Principle of Phronetic Charity and the interpretive practices connected with it, we discuss the repercussions of our account on the issue of the epistemic access to virtue. We will show, in particular, that some important components of both disunitarianism and unitarianism have to be retained: in accordance with the former, we stress the role of concrete experience over pure speculation and, up to a point, the idea that virtues tend to form variegated ensembles; in accordance with the latter, we accept the claim that virtues are not attributed to moral agents in isolation. Ultimately, however, the account developed here rejects both the atomism of the disunitarian view and the holism of the “Unity of the Virtues”, since it is in fact a form of molecularism, according to which virtues come neither individually nor as a whole, but rather as clusters.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-019-10054-2
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: 52,919
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

Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.

View all 40 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Limit of Charity and Agreement.Chuang Ye - 2008 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 3 (1):99-122.
The Nature of Interpretative Charity.Jeff Malpas - 1988 - Dialectica 42 (1):17-36.
The Nature of Interpretative Charity.J. E. Malpas - 1988 - Dialectica 42 (1):17-36.
The Paradox of Charity.Marcin Lewiński - 2012 - Informal Logic 32 (4):403-439.
Charity Implies Meta-Charity.Roy Sorensen - 2004 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (2):290 - 315.
The Method of Question and Answer as a Principle of Charity in Gadamer's Hermeneutics.David Vessey - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 2 (203):1-14.
Charity, Self-Interpretation, and Belief.Henry Jackman - 2003 - Journal of Philosophical Research 28:143-168.
Charity, Supervenience, and Skepticism.Hamid Vahid - 2001 - Metaphilosophy 32 (3):308-325.
Pangloss, L’Erreur Et La Divergence.Daniel Laurier - 1994 - Journal of Philosophical Research 19:345-372.
Pangloss, L’Erreur Et La Divergence.Daniel Laurier - 1994 - Journal of Philosophical Research 19:345-372.


Added to PP index

Total views
8 ( #913,735 of 2,343,668 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #188,103 of 2,343,668 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes