Christine Swanton offers a new, comprehensive theory of virtue ethics which addresses the major concerns of modern ethical theory from a character-based perspective. The book departs in significant ways from classical virtue ethics and neo-Aristotelianism, employing insights from Nietzsche and other sources, resulting in a highly distinctive and original brand of virtue ethics.
This ground-breaking and lucid contribution to the vibrant field of virtue ethics focuses on the influential work of Hume and Nietzsche, providing fresh perspectives on their philosophies and a compelling account of their impact on the development of virtue ethics. A ground-breaking text that moves the field of virtue ethics beyond ancient moral theorists and examines the highly influential ethical work of Hume and Nietzsche from a virtue ethics perspective Contributes both to virtue ethics and a refreshed understanding of Hume’s (...) and Nietzsche’s ethics Skilfully bridges the gap between continental and analytical philosophy Lucidly written and clearly organized, allowing students to focus on either Hume or Nietzsche Written by one of the most important figures contributing to virtue ethics today. (shrink)
It is not unusual now for Hume to be read as part of a virtue ethical tradition. However there are a number of obstacles in the way of such a reading: subjectivist, irrationalist, hedonistic, and consequentialist interpretations of Hume. In this paper I support a virtue ethical reading by arguing against all these interpretations. In the course of these arguments I show how Hume should be understood as part of a virtue ethical tradition which is sentimentalist in a response-dependent sense, (...) as opposed to Aristotelian. (shrink)
Environmental ethics is apparently caught in a dilemma. We believe in human species partiality as a way of making sense of many of our practices. However as part of our commitment to impartialism in ethics, we arguably should extend the principle of impartiality to other species, in a version of biocentric egalitarianism of the kind advocated by Paul Taylor. According to this view, not only do all entities that possess a good have inherent worth, but they have equal inherent worth, (...) and in particular no species is superior to any other. In this paper, I elaborate a Heideggerian environmental virtue ethics that slips between the horns of the dilemma. Central to this ethics is the relation of “dwelling” and the many virtues of dwelling, according to which the world is seen as “holy” in a variety of ways. This ethics is importantly local in respect of time and place, but also has universalistic aspects. To understand such an ethics, it is necessary to grasp Heidegger’s notion of truth as “aleithia” or opening, which enables us to escape the metaphysical dilemmas besetting ethics in the analytic tradition, including standard virtue ethics. Elaborating this notion occupies a large part of the paper. (shrink)
Many forms of virtue ethics, like certain forms of utilitarianism, suffer from the problem of indirection. In those forms, the criterion for status of a trait as a virtue is not the same as the criterion for the status of an act as right. Furthermore, if the virtues for example are meant to promote the nourishing of the agent, the virtuous agent is not standardly supposed to be motivated by concern for her own flourishing in her activity. In this paper, (...) I propose a virtue ethics which does not suffer from the problem. Traits are not virtues because their cultivation and manifestation promote a value such as agent flourishing. They are virtues in so far as they are habits of appropriate response to various relevant values. This means that there is a direct connection between the rationale of a virtue and what makes an action virtuous or right. (shrink)
In this astonishingly rich volume, experts in ethics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, political theory, aesthetics, history, critical theory, and hermeneutics bring to light the best philosophical scholarship on what is arguably Nietzsche's most rewarding but most challenging text. Including essays that were commissioned specifically for the volume as well as essays revised and edited by their authors, this collection showcases definitive works that have shaped Nietzsche studies alongside new works of interest to students and experts alike. A lengthy introduction, annotated (...) bibliography, and index make this an extremely useful guide for the classroom and advanced research. (shrink)
According to many critics of virtue ethics the dominant virtue ethical paradigm of practical reasoning and right action both encourages a dismissive attitude to moral disagreement and offers a bad model for dealing with it. The charge of dismissiveness raises two issues. First, what is it to take moral disagreement seriously? Second, can virtue ethics respond to the charge?In answer to the first question I show that on virtue ethical account of ethics a great deal of pervasive deep disagreement can (...) be explained by the existence of vagueness and cognitive shortcomings. Taking moral disagreement seriously is to appreciate that much disagreement is deep, reasonable, and intractable; and that moral points of view (including those of virtuous agents) are subject to limited perspectives, the narrative particularities of one’s life, and cultural and historical location. The alleged problem with virtue ethics is that it fails to appreciate the perspectival, theory ladenness, and intractability of dispute, for it is commonly assumed that in virtue ethics a virtuous agent is both the determinant of right action and the repository of sound reasoning about which actions are right.In answer to the second question I show that virtue ethics need not be committed to this feature. I assume a dialogical version of virtue ethics where right action is understood in terms of meeting the targets of relevant virtues, many of which pertain to excellence in dialogue. Relative to this account I focus on two areas of disagreement.(1) The status of actions falling within areas where the application of ‘right’ is vague.(2) Disagreement caused by cognitive shortcomings on the part of some or all of the disagreeing parties. (shrink)
: On the Aristotelian picture of virtue, moral virtue has at its core intellectual virtue. An interesting challenge for this orthodoxy is provided by the case of universal love and its associated virtues, such as the dispositions to exhibit grace, or to forgive, where appropriate. It is difficult to find a property in the object of such love, in virtue of which grace, for example, ought to be bestowed. Perhaps, then, love in general, including universal love, is not necessarily exhibited (...) for reasons. This is the view that, with the help of Heidegger's notion of a fundamental emotional attunement, I defend. The problem is to show how universal love, and its manifestation in the virtues of universal love, can then be seen as rational. Showing this is the task of the essay. (shrink)
In this paper, I am concerned to show that a wide and interesting range of phenomena commonly described as ‘weakness of will’ should be understood as manifesting a defect of what I shall call ‘executive cowardice’ rather than a strong kind of irrationality. More specifically, I claim that such cases should not be understood as an irrational bypassing of an all-things-considered judgment about the thing to do—a view succinctly described by Peacocke thus: The akrates is irrational because although he intentionally (...) does something for which he has some reason, there is a wider set of reasons he has relative to which he does not judge what he does to be rational. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that virtue ethics should be understood as a form of ethics which integrates various domains of the practical in relation to which virtues are excellences. To argue this it is necessary to distinguish two senses of the “moral”: the broad sense which integrates the domains of the practical and a narrow classificatory sense. Virtue ethics, understood as above, believes that all genuine virtue should be understood as what I call virtues proper. To possess a virtue (...) proper (such as an excellent disposition of open-mindedness, an epistemic virtue) is to possess a disposition of overall excellence in relation to the sphere or field of the virtue (being open to the opinions of others). Overall excellence in turn involves excellence in integrating to a sufficient degree, standards of excellence in all relevant practical domains. Epistemic virtues, sporting virtues, moral virtues, and so on are all virtues proper. In particular it is impossible for an epistemic virtue to be a moral (narrow sense) vice. (shrink)
The object of Angleâ€™s rich, fascinating and wide-ranging book is the admirable one of building a bridge between Confucian ethics and modern ethical thought. He does this through the use of two major tools. The first is the overall framework: Confucian ethics is understood as a type of virtue ethics. The second is the deployment of â€œbridge conceptsâ€ â€œwhich allow us to put two traditions into dialogueâ€ for â€œthey are open enough to permit of greater specificationâ€ (Stalnaker 2006: 17) in (...) relation to each of the traditions brought into dialogue (52). These two tools are linked, for Angle thinks of virtue ethics itself as a bridge concept, â€œwhich is meant to be a general framework for discussion rather than a particular, fully specified understandingâ€ (52). This is an interesting approach to the problem of the definition of virtue ethics, but I shall not focus on this issue. Nor shall I challenge the virtue ethical framework of Angleâ€”I am not qualified enough for thatâ€”though I believe that some reject such a framework in favor of role ethics. I myself believe that virtue ethics in its fuller development should embrace role ethics through the notion of what I have called â€œdifferentiatedâ€ virtue. But this issue is not the focus of Angleâ€™s book. Rather I shall concentrate on aspects of two concepts which Angle appears to deploy as bridge concepts: balance in relation to the Confucian idea of harmony, and attention in relation to the Confucian idea of reverence. We begin with balance and harmony. (shrink)
Although our moral lives would be unrecognisable without them, roles have received little attention from analytic moral philosophers. Roles are central to our lives and to our engagement with one another, and should be analysed in connection with our core notions of ethics such as virtue, reason, and obligation. This volume aims to redress the neglect of role ethics by confronting the tensions between conceptions of impartial morality and role obligations in the history of analytic philosophy and the Confucian tradition. (...) Different perspectives on the ethical significance of roles can be found by looking to debates within professional and applied ethics, by challenging existing accounts of how roles generate reasons, by questioning the hegemony of ethical reasons, and by exploring the relation between expertise and virtue. The essays tackle several core questions related to these debates: What are roles and what is their normative import? To what extent are roles and the ethics of roles central to ethics as opposed to virtue in general, and obligation in general? Are role obligations characteristically incompatible with ordinary morality in professions such as business, law, and medicine? How does practical reason function in relation to roles? Perspectives in Role Ethics is an examination of a largely neglected topic in ethics. It will appeal to a broad range of scholars in normative ethics, virtue ethics, non-Western ethics, and applied ethics interested in the importance of roles in our moral life. (shrink)
This book explores the nitty-gritty details of particular virtues. Most of the virtues discussed--ambition, cheerfulness, creativity, magnificence, pride, wit, wonder--have been almost wholly neglected by contemporary ethicists.