Bijdragen 70 (3):337-358 (2009)

Modern society as well as modern ethical theory is characterised by excessiveness. To produce and to consume as much as possible is the current world ethos. The utility principle of consequentialism is considered to be too demanding and Kant’s categorical imperative too strict. In this article it is my proposal to reintroduce the virtue of detachment as a basic component of the moral attitude. Detachment used to be a virtue in classical virtue ethics such as Cynicism, Epicureanism and Stoicism. I take detachment to be the alternative for an attitude of excess. A detached person accepts his vulnerability and his being to a certain extent left to coincidences. Detachment is not opposed to attachment. It requires attachment. The virtue of detachment involves the ability to break away from the activities, persons, things, places and perhaps even principles one is attached to. It is irreducible to maximally promoting well-being and honouring unconditionally each person
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DOI 10.2143/BIJ.70.3.2042636
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