The Nature of Moral Virtue

Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst (2000)

Erik Wielenberg
DePauw University
The dissertation is centered around the Moral Virtuosity Project . The central task of the dissertation is to examine what other philosophers have had to say on this topic and ultimately to successfully complete this project. ;Chapter One is concerned exclusively with Aristotle's attempt to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. I defend the view that Aristotle holds that each moral virtue is a disposition toward proper practical reasoning, action, and emotion within a certain sphere. I critically examine Aristotle's argument for the unity of the virtues. I then try to point to some areas where Aristotle's views on moral virtue fail to correspond with our ordinary common sense views on moral virtue. ;Chapter Two has three main parts. First, I consider Immanuel Kant's attempt to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. I develop an interpretation of Kant's views on this topic. Second, I take up the topic of the relationship between Aristotle's views on moral virtue and Kant's views on moral virtue. Third, I examine some objections to Kant's views on moral virtue. I conclude that Kant's account of moral virtue goes wrong because it is inextricably tied up with the concept of moral obligation. ;Chapter Three is devoted to critical discussions of contemporary attempts to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. Authors whose views are discussed include: G. H. von Wright, Philippa Foot, Judith Thomson, Linda Zagzebski, and Thomas Hurka. I conclude that each view has serious problems. ;In Chapter Four I develop a novel account of moral virtue by appealing to the concept of admirability. Drawing on work on virtue by Michael Slote, I try to shed some light on the concept of admirability and distinguish the concept from related concepts. I then appeal to the concept of admirability to explicate the concept of a moral virtue, thus completing the Moral Virtuosity Project. I discuss a number of other topics, including "hard cases", excessive virtue, and two sorts of morally virtuous persons: the Good Hearted Hero and the Conflicted Hero
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Moral Saints.Susan Wolf - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):419-439.
What an Emotion Is: A Sketch.Robert C. Roberts - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (April):183-209.
Varieties of Virtue Ethics.Justin Oakley - 1996 - Ratio 9 (2):128-152.
Goods and Virtues.Sarah Conly & Michael Slote - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (1):147.
IV—A False Doctrine of the Mean.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1980 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81 (1):57-72.

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