On Automaticity as a Constituent of Virtue

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (1):165-175 (2015)
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A large part of the current debate among virtue ethicists focuses on the role played by phronesis, or wise practical reasoning, in virtuous action. The paradigmatic case of an action expressing phronesis is one where an agent explicitly reflects and deliberates on all practical options in a given situation and eventually makes a wise choice. Habitual actions, by contrast, are typically performed automatically, that is, in the absence of preceding deliberation. Thus they would seem to fall outside of the primary focus of the current virtue ethical debate. By contrast, Bill Pollard has recently suggested that all properly virtuous actions must be performed habitually and therefore automatically, i.e. in the absence of moral deliberation. In this paper, Pollard’s suggestion is interpreted as the thesis that habitual automaticity is constitutive of virtue or moral excellence. By constructing an argument in favor of it and discussing several objections, the paper ultimately seeks to defend a qualified version of this thesis



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Citations of this work

Habitual virtuous action and acting for reasons.Lieke Joske Franci Asma - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 35 (7):1036-1056.
The Force of Habit.William Hornett - 2023 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 104 (3):1-30.
Non-Ideal Virtue and Situationism.Matthew C. Taylor - 2021 - The Journal of Ethics 26 (1):41-68.
Personal Acts, Habit, and Embodied Agency in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception.Justin F. White - 2022 - In Jeremy Dunham & Komarine Romdenh-Romluc (eds.), Habit and the History of Philosophy. New York, NY: Rewriting the History of Philosophy. pp. 152–165.

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References found in this work

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The Concept of Mind.Gilbert Ryle - 1949 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 141:125-126.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Virtue and Reason.John Mcdowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.

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