Rosalind Hursthouse has written an excellent book, in which she develops a neo-Aristotelian virtueethics that she sees as avoiding some of the major criticisms leveled against virtueethics in general, and against Aristotle's brand of virtueethics in particular.
Virtueethics is perhaps the most important development within late twentieth-century moral philosophy. Rosalind Hursthouse, who has made notable contributions to this development, here presents a full exposition and defense of her neo-Aristotelian version of virtueethics. She shows how virtueethics can provide guidance for action, illuminate moral dilemmas, and bring out the moral significance of the emotions.
I examine “The Land Ethic” by Aldo Leopold from a virtueethics perspective. Following Leopold, I posit the “good” as the “integrity, stability, and beauty” of biotic communities and then develop “land virtues” that foster this good. I recommend and defend three land virtues: respect, prudence, and practical judgment.
Virtueethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. We begin by discussing two concepts that are central to all forms of virtueethics, namely, virtue and practical wisdom. Then we note some of the features that distinguish different virtue ethical theories from one another before turning to objections that have been raised against virtueethics and responses offered on its behalf. We conclude with a look at some (...) of the directions in which future research might develop. (shrink)
In this essay, I first extend the insights of virtueethics into environmental ethics and examine the possible dangers of this approach. Second, I analyze some qualities of character that an environmentally virtuous person must possess. Third, I evaluate “humility” as an environmental virtue, specifically, the position of Thomas E. Hill, Jr. I conclude that Hill’s conception of “proper” humility can be more adequatelyexplicated by associating it with another virtue, environmental “openness.”.
This essay develops a new conceptual framework of science and engineering ethics education based on virtueethics and positive psychology. Virtue ethicists and positive psychologists have argued that current rule-based moral philosophy, psychology, and education cannot effectively promote students’ moral motivation for actual moral behavior and may even lead to negative outcomes, such as moral schizophrenia. They have suggested that their own theoretical framework of virtueethics and positive psychology can contribute to the effective (...) promotion of motivation for self-improvement by connecting the notion of morality and eudaimonic happiness. Thus this essay attempts to apply virtueethics and positive psychology to science and engineering ethics education and to develop a new conceptual framework for more effective education. In addition to the conceptual-level work, this essay suggests two possible educational methods: moral modeling and involvement in actual moral activity in science and engineering ethics classes, based on the conceptual framework. (shrink)
Christine Swanton offers a new, comprehensive theory of virtueethics which addresses the major concerns of modern ethical theory from a character-based perspective. The book departs in significant ways from classical virtueethics and neo-Aristotelianism, employing insights from Nietzsche and other sources, resulting in a highly distinctive and original brand of virtueethics.
In this paper I examine and reply to a deflationary challenge brought against virtueethics. The challenge comes from critics who are impressed by recent psychological evidence suggesting that much of what we take to be virtuous conduct is in fact elicited by narrowly specific social settings, as opposed to being the manifestation of robust individual character. In answer to the challenge, I suggest a conception of virtue that openly acknowledges the likelihood of its deep, ongoing dependence (...) upon particular social relationships and settings. I argue that holding this conception will indeed cause problems for some important strands of thought in virtueethics, most notably in the tradition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. But an approach to virtueethics modeled on David Hume's treatment of virtue and character in A Treatise of Human Nature promises to escape these problems. (shrink)
Although both codes of practice and virtueethics are integral to the ethos and history of “medical professionalism”, the two trends appear mutually incompatible. Hence, in the first part of the paper we explore and explicate this apparent conflict and seek a direction for medical education. The theoretical and empirical literature indicates that moral deliberation may transcend the incompatibilities between the formal and the virtuous, may enhance moral and other aspects of personal sensitivity, may help design and improve (...) other parts of the curricula, and may foster self-awareness and clarification of the professional role. Not only are these goals essential for good and conscientious doctoring, but they may also reduce physicians’ “burn-out”. We argue that medical education should focus on the ubiquitous practice of deliberation in contemporary medicine, and especially the practice of moral deliberation. (shrink)
Virtueethics is standardly taught and discussed as a distinctive approach to the major questions of ethics, a third major position alongside Utilitarian and Kantian ethics. I argue that this taxonomy is a confusion. Both Utilitarianism and Kantianism contain treatments of virtue, so virtueethics cannot possibly be a separate approach contrasted with those approaches. There are, to be sure, quite a few contemporary philosophical writers about virtue who are neither Utilitarians nor (...) Kantians; many of these find inspiration in ancient Greek theories of virtue. But even here there is little unity. Although certain concerns do unite this disparate group (a concern for the role of motives and passions in good choice, a concern for character, and a concern for the whole course of an agent''s life), there are equally profound disagreements, especially concerning the role that reason should play in ethics. One group of modern virtue-theorists, I argue, are primarily anti-Utilitarians, concerned with the plurality of value and the susceptibility of passions to social cultivation. These theorists want to enlarge the place of reason in ethics. They hold that reason can deliberate about ends as well as means, and that reason can modify the passions themselves. Another group of virtue theorists are primarily anti-Kantians. They believe that reason plays too dominant a role in most philosophical accounts of ethics, and that a larger place should be given to sentiments and passions -- which they typically construe in a less reason-based way than does the first group. The paper investigates these differences, concluding that it is not helpful to speak of virtueethics, and that we would be better off characterizing the substantive views of each thinker -- and then figuring out what we ourselves want to say. (shrink)
Recently, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum have developed the capabilities approach to provide a model for understanding the effectiveness of programs to help the developing nations. The approach holds that human beings are fundamentally free and have a sense of human dignity. Therefore, institutions need to help people enhance this dignity by providing them with the opportunity to develop their capabilities freely. I argue that this approach may help support business ethics based on virtue. Since teleology has become (...) problematic, virtueethics has had difficulty giving itself an ultimate justification. By combining virtueethics with the capabilities approach, it becomes possible to ground virtueethics on the basis of the existence of human dignity. This frees virtueethics of the need for a strict teleology, replacing it with the notion that people must work to develop the capabilities of others although those capabilities are not pointed toward a definite goal. I further suggest that by grounding virtueethics in capabilities, the actions of a virtuous manager become clearer. Rather than simply charging a manager with serving the public, the manager is charged with serving the stakeholders in a way that develops their capabilities. For example, a manager should not just give their employees what is just but must give them the environment and the encouragement to grow and to find fulfillment in their job. (shrink)
Professionals, it is said, have no use for simple lists of virtues and vices. The complexities and constraints of professional roles create peculiar moral demands on the people who occupy them, and traits that are vices in ordinary life are praised as virtues in the context of professional roles. Should this disturb us, or is it naive to presume that things should be otherwise? Taking medical and legal practice as key examples, Justin Oakley and Dean Cocking develop a rigorous articulation (...) and defence of virtueethics, contrasting it with other types of character-based ethical theories and showing that it offers a promising new approach to the ethics of professional roles. They provide insights into the central notions of professional detachment, professional integrity, and moral character in professional life, and demonstrate how a virtue-based approach can help us better understand what ethical professional-client relationships would be like. (shrink)
In this book, Bryan W. Van Norden examines early Confucianism as a form of virtueethics and Mohism, an anti-Confucian movement, as a version of consequentialism. The philosophical methodology is analytic, in that the emphasis is on clear exegesis of the texts and a critical examination of the philosophical arguments proposed by each side. Van Norden shows that Confucianism, while similar to Aristotelianism in being a form of virtueethics, offers different conceptions of “the good life,” (...) the virtues, human nature, and ethical cultivation. (shrink)
The aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editors of each volume contribute an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. -/- This volume brings together much of the strongest (...) and most influential work undertaken in the field of virtueethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtueethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, it includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of virtueethics; some later criticisms of the revival of virtueethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtueethics. This collection should appeal not only to students and others seeking a wider knowledge of contemporary developments in moral philosophy, but to professional philosophers as well. (shrink)
This volume brings together much of the most influential work undertaken in the field of virtueethics over the last four decades. The ethics of virtue predominated in the ancient world, and recent moral philosophy has seen a revival of interest in virtueethics as a rival to Kantian and utilitarian approaches to morality. Divided into four sections, the collection includes articles critical of other traditions; early attempts to offer a positive vision of (...) class='Hi'>virtueethics; some later criticisms of the revival of virtueethics; and, finally, some recent, more theoretically ambitious essays in virtueethics. (shrink)
This paper provides an account of virtues as praiseworthy traits of character with a far-reaching capacity to influence conduct. Virtues supply their possessors both with good reasons that indicate, for diverse contexts, what sort of thing be done and with motivation to them. This motivational power of virtue is crucial for the question of what kind of person, or businessperson, one wants to be. The paper shows how the contrast between virtueethics and rule ethics is (...) often drawn too sharply and indicates how virtue theories can incorporate both theoretical and practical uses of rules. More generally, it shows how a virtue orientation affects attitudes in management practices and how an understanding of certain virtues can help in making better decisions, both ethically and in relation to success in business. (shrink)
Rosalind Hursthouse has written an excellent book, in which she develops a neo-Aristotelian virtueethics that she sees as avoiding some of the major criticisms leveled against virtueethics in general, and against Aristotle's brand of virtueethics in particular.
Technological advancements in information systems over the past few decades have enabled firms to work with the major suppliers and customers in their supply chain in order to improve the performance of the entire channel. Tremendous benefits for all parties can be realized by sharing information and coordinating operations to reduce inventory requirements, improve quality, and increase customer satisfaction; but the companies must collaborate effectively to bring these gains to fruition. We consider two alternative methods of managing these interfirm supply (...) chain relationships in this article. The first, which we have named “dictatorial collaboration,” occurs when a dominant supply chain entity assumes control of the channel and forces the other firms to follow its edicts. We compare and contrast this method with “sustainable collaboration,” in which the parties share resources and engage in joint problem solving to improve the performance of the system as a whole. We use a virtueethics lens to describe these methods of relationship management to suggest that sustainable collaboration is preferable to dictatorial collaboration both operationally and ethically in the long run. (shrink)
The aim of this essay is to test the claim that epistemologists—virtue epistemologists in particular—have much to learn from virtueethics. The essay begins with an outline of virtueethics itself. This section concludes that a pure form of virtueethics is likely to be unattractive, so the virtue epistemologist should examine the "impure" views of real philosophers. Aristotle is usually held up as the paradigm virtue ethicist. His doctrine of the (...) mean is described, and it is explained how that doctrine can provide a framework for an account of epistemic virtue. The conclusion of the essay is that a virtue epistemology based on analogies with virtueethics, though well worth developing and considering, will face several challenges in fulfilling the significant promises that have been made on its behalf. (shrink)
What is virtue? How can we lead moral lives? Exploring how contemporary moral philosophy has led to a revival of interest in the concepts of 'virtue', 'character' and 'flourishing', this is an accessible and critical introduction to virtueethics. The book includes chapter summaries and guides to further reading throughout to help readers explore, understand and develop a critical perspective towards this important school of contemporary ethical thought.
This chapter provides an intellectual framework for understanding modern theories of virtue. It presents a version of virtueethics, which draws on the resources of the historical, particularly ancient, tradition, discussing the ways in which a virtue is a disposition, and the ways in which it involves practical reasoning and emotion. It explores virtue’s relation to flourishing and to right action, and the way in which virtue involves aspiring to an ideal. It also discusses (...) the relation of virtue to human nature. Finally, it shows how some modern versions of virtueethics can reasonably be seen as weaker or less complete theories than the one featured. (shrink)
In this essay, I explore the prospects for a virtue ethic approach to business. First, I delineate two fundamental criteria that I believe must be met for any such approach to be viable: viz., the virtues must be exercised for the sake of the good of one’s life as a unitary whole (contra role-morality approaches) and for the common good of the communities of which one is a part as well as the individual good of their members (contra egoist (...) approaches). Second, I argue that these two criteria can be met only if we are able to reconceive and transform the nature of work within contemporary business organizations. In particular, what is needed, I argue, is a retrieval of something like the older ideal of work as a “vocation”, or “calling”, whereby work can be viewed as a specific aspect of a more general calling to pursue, through the practice of the virtues, “the good life” both for ourselves and for others. Lastly, I consider some important challenges to this “vocational virtue ethic” approach to work within contemporary business organizations and offer a few suggestions for how they might be met. (shrink)
In support of the thesis that virtueethics allows for a more comprehensive and consistent interpretation of the "Analects" than other possible models, the author uses a structural outline of a virtue ethic (derived from Alasdair MacIntyre's account of the Aristotelian tradition) to organize a discussion of the text. The resulting interpretation focuses attention on the religious aspects of Confucianism and accounts for aspects of the text that are otherwise difficult to explain. In addition, the author argues (...) that the structural similarities between the Aristotelian and Confucian conceptions of self-cultivation indicate a dimension of commensurability between the two traditions, despite very real variations in specific content. Finally, the author suggests how crosscultural commensurability, in general, can be understood on a theoretical level. (shrink)
The turn to descriptive studies of ethics is inspired by the sense that our ethical theorizing needs to engage ethnography, history, and literature in order to address the full complexity of ethical life. This article examines four books that describe the cultivation of virtue in diverse cultural contexts, two concerning early China and two concerning Islam in recent years. All four emphasize the significance of embodiment, and they attend to the complex ways in which choice and agency interact (...) with the authority of tradition. In considering these books, this article examines the relations between our academic claims concerning the self and ethics, conceptual or theoretical claims made in the elite writings of traditions, and the lived experiences of the people we study. The conclusion turns to our methodological foundations for studying these topics both comparatively and constructively. (shrink)
Thomas Hurka, Simon Keller, and Julia Annas have recently argued that virtueethics is self-effacing. I contend that these arguments are rooted in a mistaken understanding of the role that ideal agency and agent flourishing (should) play in virtueethics. I then show how a virtue ethical theory can avoid the charge of self-effacement and why it is important that it do so.
One important objection to virtue ethical theories is that they apparently must account for the wrongness of a wrong action in terms of a lack of virtue (or presence of vice) in the agent, and not in terms of the effects of the action on its victim. We take such effects to ground deontic constraints on how we may act, and virtue theory appears unable to account for such constraints. I claim, however, that eudaimonist virtue theory (...) can account for wrongness in just this way. I draw on recent work by Stephen Darwall on the “second-person standpoint,” in which we see others as independent sources of claims on us —as sources of “deontic constraints.” We have reason to occupy that standpoint as a matter of virtue, and thus virtuous agents should and will have reasons to respect deontic constraints. I argue for this claim as an element of a plausible eudaimonist virtue theory, and rebut objections that the view misunderstands the nature of or reasons for respecting such constraints. (shrink)
This volume presents the fruits of an extended dialogue among American and Chinese philosophers concerning the relations between virtueethics and the Confucian tradition. Based on recent advances in English-language scholarship on and translation of Confucian philosophy, the book demonstrates that cross-tradition stimulus, challenge, and learning are now eminently possible. Anyone interested in the role of virtue in contemporary moral philosophy, in Chinese thought, or in the future possibilities for cross-tradition philosophizing will find much to engage with (...) in the twenty essays collected here. (shrink)
There are problems with egoism as a theory, but what matters here is the point that intuitively ethics is thought to be about the good of others, so that focusing on your own good seems wrong from the start. Virtues are not just character traits, however, since forgetfulness or stubbornness are not virtues. Virtues are character traits which are in some way desirable. Criticism is generally renewed at this point on the grounds that claims about flourishing are now including (...) claims about virtue, and are thus no longer common ground to the defender and the critic of virtueethics. But virtueethics has never held that they are, so this is not a problem. It is only to be expected that the virtuous will differ from the nonvirtuous in their assessments of flourishing, because we are dealing here with virtue in the context of a formally characterized conception of flourishing. (shrink)
Business ethicists have increasingly used Aristotelian “virtueethics” to analyze the actions of business people and to explore the question of what the standard of ethical behavior is. These analyses have raised many important issues and opened up new avenuesfor research. But the time has come to examine in some detail possible limitations or weaknesses in virtueethics. This paper arguesthat Aristotelian virtueethics is subject to many objections because the psychology implicit within the (...) ethic is not well-suited for analyzing some problematic forms of behavior. Part One offers a brief overview of the firm and of the good life from a virtueethics perspective. Part Two develops a number of criticisms of this perspective. (shrink)
The first on the topic of environmental virtueethics, this book seeks to provide the definitive anthology that will both establish the importance of environmental virtue in environmental discourse and advance the current research on environmental virtue in interesting and original ways. The selections in this collection, consisting of ten original and four reprinted essays by leading scholars in the field, discuss the role that virtue and character have traditionally played in environmental discourse, and reflect (...) upon the role that it should play in the future. (shrink)
Since virtue and the virtues have been important in Reformed theology for most of its history, this essay is devoted to the question of how this tradition may contribute to and interact with contemporary virtueethics. Reformed concepts of sanctification as open to moral growth, covenant as a narrative context of divine commandments, and unio cum Christo as defining human teleology and virtuousness provide valuable contributions to the development of such an ethics. On the other hand, (...) Reformed conceptions of reform, natural law, common grace and christological eschatology offer theological arguments for overcoming Hauerwas’s problematic overemphasis on the distinctiveness of the church’s ethic. (shrink)
My question in this paper concerns what eudaimonist virtueethics (EVE) might have to say about what makes right actions right. This is obviously an important question if we want to know what (if anything) distinguishes EVE from various forms of consequentialism and deontology in ethical theorizing. The answer most commonly given is that according to EVE, an action is right if and only if it is what a virtuous person would do in the circumstances. However, understood as (...) a claim about what makes particular actions right, this is not especially plausible. What makes a virtuous person’s actions right must reasonably be a matter of the feature, or features, which she, via her practical wisdom, appreciates as ethically relevant in the circumstances, and not the fact that someone such as herself would perform those actions. I argue that EVE instead should be understood as a more radical alternative in ethical philosophy, an alternative that relies on the background assumption that no general account or criterion for what makes right actions right is available to us: right action is simply too complex to be captured in a ‘finite and manageable set of…moral principles’ (McKeever and Ridge, Principled ethics, Oxford University Press, 2006 , p. 139). This does not rule out the possibility that there might be some generalizations about how we should act which hold true without exception. Perhaps there are some things which we must never do, as well as some features of the world which always carry normative weight (even though their exact weight may vary from one context to another). Still, these things are arguably few and far between, and what we must do to ensure that we reliably recognize what is right in particular situations is to acquire practical wisdom. Nothing short of that could do the job. (shrink)
Virtueethics is frequently considered to be a single category of ethical theory, and a rival to Kantianismand Utilitarianism. I argue that this approach is a mistake, because both Kantians and Utilitarians can, and do, have an interest in the virtues and the forrnation of character. But even if we focus on the group of ethical theorists who are most commonly called "virtue theorists" because they reject the guidance of both Kantianism and Utilitarianism, and derive inspiration from (...) ancient Greek ethics, there is little unity to this group. Although there is a thin common ground that links all the group's members - a focus on the formation of character, on the nature of the passions, and on choice over the whole course of life - there are also crucial differences among them. (shrink)
This paper seeks to establish whether the categories of MacIntyrean virtueethics as applied to business organizations are meaningful in a non-western business context. It does so by building on research reported in Moore : 363–387, 2012) in which the application of virtueethics to business organizations was investigated empirically in the UK, based on a conceptual framework drawn from MacIntyre’s work. Comparing these results with an equivalent study in Sri Lanka, the paper finds that the (...) categories are meaningful but that there are both similarities to and considerable differences in the content of these categories from the UK study. The paper draws on aspects of institutional theory to explore and explain these findings. Overall, there is supportive evidence that the categories of MacIntyrean virtueethics are generalizable, and so can be used to characterize problems of organizational virtue and vice around the world, while providing evidence that there may be polities which are more conducive to the ‘practice-like conduct of production’ : 77–91, 2008). (shrink)
In this paper I evaluate some recent virtue-ethical accounts of right action [Hursthouse 1999; Slote 2001; Swanton 2001]. I argue that all are vulnerable to what I call the insularity objection : evaluating action requires attention to worldly consequences external to the agent, whereas virtueethics is primarily concerned with evaluating an agent's inner states. More specifically, I argue that insofar as these accounts are successful in meeting the insularity objection they invite the circularity objection : they (...) end up relying upon putatively virtue-ethical considerations that themselves depend on unexplained judgments of rightness. Such accounts thus face a dilemma that is characteristic of virtue-ethical accounts of right action. They avoid the insularity objection only at the cost of inviting the circularity objection: they become intuitively plausible roughly to the extent that they lose their distinctively virtue-ethical character. (shrink)
Most moral dilemmas in medicine are analysed using the four principles with some consideration of consequentialism but these frameworks have limitations. It is not always clear how to judge which consequences are best. When principles conflict it is not always easy to decide which should dominate. They also do not take account of the importance of the emotional element of human experience. Virtueethics is a framework that focuses on the character of the moral agent rather than the (...) rightness of an action. In considering the relationships, emotional sensitivities, and motivations that are unique to human society it provides a fuller ethical analysis and encourages more flexible and creative solutions than principlism or consequentialism alone. Two different moral dilemmas are analysed using virtueethics in order to illustrate how it can enhance our approach to ethics in medicine. (shrink)
In support of the thesis that virtueethics allows for a more comprehensive and consistent interpretation of the "Analects" than other possible models, the author uses a structural outline of a virtue ethic to organize a discussion of the text. The resulting interpretation focuses attention on the religious aspects of Confucianism and accounts for aspects of the text that are otherwise difficult to explain. In addition, the author argues that the structural similarities between the Aristotelian and Confucian (...) conceptions of self-cultivation indicate a dimension of commensurability between the two traditions, despite very real variations in specific content. Finally, the author suggests how crosscultural commensurability, in general, can be understood on a theoretical level. (shrink)
An ethical theory is self-effacing if it tells us that sometimes, we should not be motivated by the considerations that justify our acts. In his influential paper 'The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories' , Michael Stocker argues that consequentialist and deontological ethical theories must be self-effacing, if they are to be at all plausible. Stocker's argument is often taken to provide a reason to give up consequentialism and deontology in favour of virtueethics. I argue that this assessment (...) is a mistake. Virtueethics is self-effacing in just the same way as are the theories that Stocker attacks. Or, at the very least: if there is a way for virtueethics to avoid self-effacement then there are ways for its rivals to avoid self-effacement too. Therefore, considerations of self-effacement provide no reason to prefer virtueethics to its major rivals. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss virtueethics in relation to the rejection of the use of lethal violence. I argue that, given how I apply virtueethics, a person of good character will have a very strong intrinsic desire to avoid the killing of another human being, so that only in rare circumstances where the alternative to violence is immensely evil would the use of violence to prevent the evil be the morally appropriate choice for the (...) person to make. I first give a brief summary of a neo-Aristotelian version of virtueethics. Then I explain why I think that a virtuous agent would be strongly averse to killing human beings. I go on to show that this does not mean that such an agent would never use violence on others, only that she would be very reluctant to do so. The circumstances in which she would do so are rare, but cannot be ruled out. For instance, virtuous agents may in very limited cases kill in self-defense despite a strong aversion to killing. The circumstances in which killings take place are found most of all in war, so I close by discussing where the virtueethics approach to war is positioned in relation to just war theory and pacifism. (shrink)
This paper discusses the viability of a virtue-based approach to bioethics. Virtueethics is clearly appropriate to addressing issues of professional character and conduct. But another major remit of bioethics is to evaluate the ethics of biomedical procedures in order to recommend regulatory policy. How appropriate is the virtueethics approach to fulfilling this remit? The first part of this paper characterizes the methodology problem in bioethics in terms of diversity, and shows that (...) class='Hi'>virtueethics does not simply restate this problem in its own terms. However, fatal objections to the way the virtueethics approach is typically taken in bioethics literature are presented in the second section of the paper. In the third part, a virtue-based approach to bioethics that avoids the shortcomings of the typical one is introduced and shown to be prima facie plausible. The upshot is an inviting new direction for research into bioethics' methodology. (shrink)
Conceived of as a contender to other theories in substantive ethics, virtueethics is often associated with, in essence, the following account or criterion of right action: VR: An action A is right for S in circumstances C if and only if a fully virtuous agent would characteristically do A in C. There are serious objections to VR, which take the form of counter-examples. They present us with different scenarios in which less than fully virtuous persons would (...) be acting rightly in doing what no fully virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances. In this paper, various proposals for how to revise VR in order to avoid these counter-examples are considered. I will argue that in so far as the revised accounts really do manage to steer clear of the counter-examples to VR, something which it turns out is not quite true for all of them, they instead fall prey to other damaging objections. I end by discussing the future of virtueethics, given what has come to light in the previous sections of the paper. In particular, I sketch the outlines of a virtue ethical account of rightness that is structurally different from VR. This account also faces important problems. Still, I suggest that further scrutiny is required before we are in a position to make a definitive decision about its fate. (shrink)
Several philosophers have recently claimed to have discovered a new and rather significant problem with virtueethics. According to them, virtueethics generates certain expectations about the behavior of human beings which are subject to empirical testing. But when the relevant experimental work is done in social psychology, the results fall remarkably short of meeting those expectations. So, these philosophers think, despite its recent success, virtueethics has far less to offer to contemporary ethical (...) theory than might have been initially thought. I argue that there are plausible ways in which virtue ethicists can resist arguments based on empirical work in social psychology. In the first three sections of the paper, I reconstruct the line of reasoning being used against virtueethics by looking at the recent work of Gilbert Harman and John Doris. The remainder of the paper is then devoted both to responding to their challenge as well as to briefly sketching a positive account of character trait possession. (shrink)
A critically revised Aristotelian-based virtueethics has something potentially useful to offer to those engaged in analyzing oppression and creating liberatory projects. A critical virtueethics can help clarify one of the ways in which oppression interferes with flourishing; specifically, it helps clarify an aspect of oppression that can be called "moral damage.".