Virtues, Skills, and Right Action

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14 (1):73-86 (2011)
Abstract
According to Rosalind Hursthouse’s virtue based account of right action, an act is right if it is what a fully virtuous person would do in that situation. Robert Johnson has criticized the account on the grounds that the actions a non-virtuous person should take are often uncharacteristic of the virtuous person, and thus Hursthouse’s account of right action is too narrow. The non-virtuous need to take steps to improve themselves morally, and the fully virtuous person need not take these steps. So Johnson argues that any virtue based account of right action will have to find a way to ground a moral obligation to improve oneself. This paper argues that there is an account of virtue that can offer a partial solution to Johnson’s challenge, an account where virtue is a type of practical skill and in which the virtuous person is seen as having expertise. The paper references the account of skill acquisition developed by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus. Their research demonstrates that novices in a skill have to employ different strategies to act well than the strategies used by the experts, and so the ‘virtue as skill’ thesis provides support for Johnson’s claim that the actions of the non-virtuous will differ from the virtuous. On the other hand, their research suggests that there is no separating the commitment to improve yourself from the possession of expertise, and so the ‘virtue as skill’ thesis has the resources for grounding the obligation to improve oneself in an account of virtue.
Keywords Dreyfus  Ethics  Expertise  Hursthouse  Johnson  Right action  Skill  Virtue
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-010-9226-y
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References found in this work BETA
Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - Courier Dover Publications.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Overcoming the Myth of the Mental: How Philosophers Can Profit From the Phenomenology of Everyday Expertise.Hubert L. Dreyfus - 2005 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 79 (2):47 - 65.
Ethical Expertise: The Skill Model of Virtue.Matt Stichter - 2007 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (2):183-194.
Virtue and Right.Robert N. Johnson - 2003 - Ethics 113 (4):810-834.

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Citations of this work BETA
Skill, Practical Wisdom, and Ethical Naturalism.John Hacker-Wright - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):983-993.
Situationism, Skill, and the Rarity of Virtue.Micah Lott - 2014 - Journal of Value Inquiry 48 (3):387-401.
Motor Skill and Moral Virtue.Ellen Fridland - 2017 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 80:139-170.
Cultivating Practical Wisdom.Jason Swartwood - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota

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