On the Relationship Between the Aretaic and the Deontic

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (5):493-501 (2011)
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There are two fundamental classes of terms traditionally distinguished within moral vocabulary: the deontic and the aretaic. The terms from the first set serve in the prescriptive function of a moral code. The second class contains terms used for a moral evaluation of an action. The problem of the relationship between the aretaic and the deontic has not been discussed often by philosophers. It is, however, a very important and interesting issue: any normative ethical theory which takes as basic one set of these concepts should justify such choice and establish, at least implicitly, the logical relation with the other set. This paper is organized around the criticism of Stocker’s ‘sameness thesis’ (Stocker 1973 ): the claim that ‘good’ or ‘right’ mean the same thing. It is first presented in Stocker’s own formulation and criticized as implausible in that form. Some friendly modifications to his idea are suggested and then further discussed with the skeptical conclusion: no matter how close we bring deontic and aretaic notions, the gap between them will remain and any attempt to define or even explain one set of terms in another will leave something behind



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Jarek Gryz
York University

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