Virtuous Choice and Parity

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (1):71-82 (2012)

Authors
Martin Peterson
Texas A&M University
Abstract
This article seeks to contribute to the discussion on the nature of choice in virtue theory. If several different actions are available to the virtuous agent, they are also likely to vary in their degree of virtue, at least in some situations. Yet, it is widely agreed that once an action is recognised as virtuous there is no higher level of virtue. In this paper we discuss how the virtue theorist could accommodate both these seemingly conflicting ideas. We discuss this issue from a modern Aristotelian perspective, as opposed to a purely exegetic one. We propose a way of resolving what seems to be a major clash between two central features of virtue ethics. Our proposal is based on the notion of parity, a concept which recently has received considerable attention in the literature on axiology. Briefly put, two alternatives are on a par (or are ‘roughly equal’) if they are comparable, although it is not the case that one is better than the other, nor that they are equally good. The advantages of applying the concept of parity to our problem are twofold. Firstly, it sheds new light on the account of choice in virtue theory. Secondly, some of the criticisms that have been mounted against the possibility of parity can be countered by considering the notion of choice from a virtue theory perspective
Keywords Virtue  Ethics  Choice  Parity  On a par  Aristotle
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-011-9273-z
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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Natural Goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - Oxford University Press.
The Possibility of Parity.Ruth Chang - 2002 - Ethics 112 (4):659-688.
Love's Knowledge.Martha C. Nussbaum - 1990 - Oxford University Press.

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