Four Solutions to the Alleged Incompleteness of Virtue Ethics

Sean McAleer
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
In "Virtue and Right" Robert Johnson argues that virtue ethics that accept standards such as Virtuous Agent (A's x-ing is right in circumstances c iff a fully virtuous agent would x in c) are incomplete, since they cannot account for duties of moral self-improvement. This paper offers four solutions to the problem of incompleteness: the first discards Virtuous Agent and counts actions as wrong iff a vicious person would perform them; the second retains Virtuous Agent but counts self-improving actions as countererogatory: wrong but nonetheless good to do; the third replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard appealing to the Mengzian virtue of righteousness, understood as situational appropriateness; the fourth replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard that holds an action right if it promotes the agent's virtue. Each solution accommodates duties of moral self-improvement, so a virtue ethics embracing any of them would not be incomplete.
Keywords Virtue  Robert Johnson  Valerie Tiberius  Judith Jarvis Thomson  Julia Driver  Christine Swanton  Mengzi (Mencius)  Countererogation  Aristotle
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DOI 10.26556/jesp.v4i3.44
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