I propose a solution to a problem raised by E.G. West’s paper “Adam Smith’s Two Views on the Division of Labour.” Smith seems committed to the views that the division of labour makes people more and less intelligent.
Alisadyr McIntyre, the contemporary moral philosopher is also known as a philosopher of politics due to his criticisms of modernism. He is after reviving the Aristotelian virtue-centered ethics, and, for some reasons, has adopted the religious account of ethics of virtue proposed by Aquinas.In his book, In Search of Virtue, after a historical study of moral virtues during the period of Homerian Greece and after it, he finally presents an account of the nature of virtue which he believes is more (...) substantial and valid than those presented previously. This paper, after reviewing virtue-centered ethics in brief and presenting an account of it which is acceptable to McIntyre, clarifies the nature of virtue from his viewpoint. Before McIntyre, virtue is of a composite nature which could be appropriately interpreted in three stages. (shrink)
Glen Pettigrove addresses the proportionality principle in ethics, the principle that “our actions, attitudes, or emotions should be proportional to the degree of value present in the object or events to which they are responding” [p. 1]. He argues this is inconsistent with some familiar features of common-sense morality. In response, he brings virtuous character into the picture, a move we support but wish to modify. We show that certain helping actions should be guided by whether one has the virtue (...) profile most suited to the situation from amongst a surrounding network of people. (shrink)
Character realism is the view that many people have and act from character. This short paper attempts to articulate and draw attention to the underappreciated connection between our commonplaces about good friendship and character realism.
It seems like people have character traits that explain a good deal of their behavior. Call a theory character realism just in case it vindicates this folk assumption. Recently, Christian Miller has argued that the way to reconcile character realism with decades of psychological research is to adopt metaphysical reductivism about character traits. Some contemporary psychological theories of character and virtue seem to implicitly endorse such reductivism; others resist reduction of traits to finer-grained mental components or processes; and still others (...) remain silent on the metaphysics of traits. In this paper we argue that character realists do not have to, and in fact should not, be reductivists. We introduce a theoretical dilemma for reductivist character realism. Then we explain how nonreductivists can meet the standards for empirical adequacy laid out by Miller and others. Further, we argue, hylomorphic nonreductivism avoids the theoretical dilemma that threatens reductivism. It also fits nicely the major commitments of recent models of virtue in psychology. Thus, character realists should not be reductivists. (shrink)
In response to prominent criticisms of virtue ethical accounts of right action, Daniel Russell has argued that these criticisms are misguided insofar as they rest on an incorrect understanding of what virtue ethicists mean by ‘right action’, drawing on Rosalind Hursthouse’s influential account of the term. Liezl van Zyl has explored, though not fully-endorsed, a similar approach. The response holds that virtue ethicists do not embrace a strong connection between (i) right action and (ii) what any given agent ought to (...) do in a given set of circumstances. Rather, ‘right action’ is a matter of action assessment, and indicates that a given action is morally excellent and praiseworthy. More generally, the proposed account of rightness emphasizes both (i) an agent’s past and how she came to be in certain circumstances - is it a result of her own vice or wrong actions? and (ii) the agent’s own future happiness and well-being - will an action be so terrible that her life is marred and ruined? The narrative structure of an agent’s life thus plays a significant role in determining whether an action is right. This revisionary conception of right action is the focus of the current chapter. (shrink)
The analogy between virtue and skill is well-known from the ancient Greek ethical tradition, and in Intelligent Virtue, Julia Annas makes a compelling case for its continued relevance to contemporary theory. Yet scant attention gets paid to the kind of skill to which virtue is most appropriately analogized. An insufficiently nuanced view of skill, I contend, renders the analogy less illuminating than it otherwise might be, and prevents virtue ethicists from making optimal use of the analogy. In this paper, I (...) argue that embodied skill provides a particularly apt analogy for Aristotelian virtue in several important respects, and that it successfully captures the central features of Annas’ view while excluding skills that are problematically disanalogous to virtue. Moreover, I suggest that the refined analogy can help clarify some issues regarding deliberation, decision, and actions done on the spur of the moment. (shrink)
While possessing moral understanding is agreed to be a core epistemic and moral value, it remains a matter of dispute whether it can be acquired via testimony and whether it involves an ability to engage in moral reasoning. This paper addresses both issues with the aim of contributing to the current debates on moral understanding in moral epistemology and virtue ethics. It is argued that moral epistemologists should stop appealing to the argument from the transmissibility of moral understanding to make (...) a case for their favorite view of moral understanding. It is also argued that proponents of exemplarist moral theories cannot remain neutral on whether the ability to engage in moral reasoning is a necessary component of moral understanding. (shrink)
One of the hallmarks of virtue is reliably acting well. Such reliable success presupposes that an agent is able to recognize the morally salient features of a situation, and the appropriate response to those features and is motivated to act on this knowledge without internal conflict. Furthermore, it is often claimed that the virtuous person can do this in a spontaneous or intuitive manner. While these claims represent an ideal of what it is to have a virtue, it is less (...) clear how to make good on them. That is, how is it actually possible to spontaneously and reliably act well? In this paper, we will lay out a framework for understanding how it is that one could reliably act well in an intuitive manner. We will do this by developing the concept of an action schema, which draws on the philosophical and psychological literature on skill acquisition and self-regulation. In short, we will give an account of how self-regulation, grounded in skillful structures, can allow for the accurate intuitions and flexible expertise required for virtue. While our primary goal in this paper is to provide a positive theory of how virtuous intuitions might be accounted for, we also take ourselves to be raising the bar for what counts as an explanation of reliable and intuitive action in general. (shrink)
Geach is best known for his contributions to theoretical philosophy: Most of his more than one hundred papers and a dozen books are on logic, philosophy of language and metaphysics. But he also made significant contributions to ethics. Particularly influential were a series of short metaethics papers, which are small masterpieces, both in terms of philosophical content and style. In usually less than ten pages, Geach delivers sharp analyses and powerful objections against influential schools. His arguments are always so clear (...) and his examples so simple that they leave the reader wondering why no one before Geach detected the problems he points out. (shrink)
There is a certain kind of tension in recent accounts of the role of reasons in virtue ethics between two plausible claims that pull in different directions. First, that virtues are the central normative notion in virtue ethics; and second, that virtue is a kind of responsiveness to reasons: that reasons explain both what it is to act from virtue, and what the virtues are. I argue that this is a serious tension and necessitates a different account of the relationship (...) between virtues and reasons; one that explains the distinctive normative contribution of virtue, central to virtue ethics, and that also captures the ways in which virtues structure practical reason itself and provide normative reasons for thinking, feeling, and acting. I develop a view, which I call virtues as reasons structure, that achieves these aims by drawing a theoretical and practical distinction between reasons from virtue and reasons for virtue. On this view, character traits explain what reasons a person has. A generous person, for example, is one who characteristically takes certain facts to be reasons for action; these are reasons from the virtue. Reasons for the virtues have a different role in theoretical and practical reflection in grounding claims with respect to which character traits to develop. I conclude by arguing that this view does not lead to a problematic kind of relativism and suggest further lines of inquiry. (shrink)
This chapter explores the concept of judgmentalism: what it is and why it’s morally problematic. After criticizing an account offered by Gary Watson, the paper argues for a broader understanding of what it is to be judgmental, encompassing not just the overall beliefs that we form about someone else, but also the very pattern of our thoughts about those with whom we are involved in interpersonal relationships. The thesis is that to care about someone is to be oriented toward them, (...) or to see them through a particular mental lens, in a way that produces a particular pattern of salience and silence. That is: caring about someone (at least ideally) has the effect of making some features of that person particularly salient, and silencing or screening off other features from one’s consciousness. One is aptly described as judgmental when one’s thoughts do not display this sort of pattern, indicating a failure to fully adopt the orientation that constitutes properly caring about the person. (shrink)
This chapter offers a definition of luck from Aristotle's Physics, considers how this definition of luck from the Physics relates to Aristotle's treatment of luck in his works on ethics and the good life, as well as how it compares with the modern understanding of moral luck.
Intellectual humility can be broadly construed as being conscious of the limits of one’s existing knowledge and capable of acquiring more knowledge, which makes it a key virtue of the information age. However, the claim “I am humble” seems paradoxical in that someone who has the disposition in question would not typically volunteer it. Therefore, measuring intellectual humility via self-report may be methodologically unsound. As a consequence, we suggest analyzing intellectual humility semantically, using a psycholexical approach that focuses on both (...) synonyms and antonyms of ‘intellectual humility’. We present a thesaurus-based methodology to map the semantic space of intellectual humility and the vices it opposes as a heuristic to support analysis and diagnosis of this disposition. We performed the mapping both in English and German in order to test for possible cultural differences in the understanding of intellectual humility. In both languages, we find basically the same three semantic dimensions of intellectual humility as well as three dimensions of its related vices. The resulting semantic clusters were validated in an empirical study with English and German participants. We find medium-to-high correlations between thesaurus similarity and perceived similarity, and we can validate the three dimensions identified in the study. But we also find limitations of the thesaurus methodology in terms of cluster plausibility. We conclude by discussing the importance of these findings for constructing psychometric measures of intellectual humility via self-report vs. computer models. (shrink)
A wealth of research in social psychology indicates that various ethically arbitrary situational factors exert a surprisingly powerful influence on moral conduct. Empirically-minded philosophers have argued over the last two decades that this evidence challenges Aristotelian virtue ethics. John Doris, Gilbert Harman, and Maria Merritt have argued that situationist moral psychology – as opposed to Aristotelian moral psychology – is better suited to the practical aim of helping agents act better. The Aristotelian account, with its emphasis on individual factors, invites (...) too much risk of morally bad conduct insofar as it ignores the power of situational factors which lead us astray. Moral agents are often better off detecting and intervening on situational factors to help themselves act better. This paper offers an argument against the claim that situationism enjoys practical advantages over Aristotelian virtue ethics. There is empirical evidence suggesting that people can improve their behavior via Aristotelian strategies of deliberate self-improvement. This evidence also suggests that focusing our ethical attention on morally trivial factors may result in worse overall conduct. Accordingly, Aristotelianism may fare better than situationism on the practical issue of moral improvement. (shrink)
This paper aims to offer a new insight on the virtue of modesty. It argues that modesty is best understood as an executive virtue with the moderate evaluative attitude at its center. The main goals are to describe the main features of this evaluative attitude and to distinguish it from other features that are only contingently associated with modesty. Then some distinctive features of modesty as an executive virtue are suggested and defended. Next, some of existing accounts are critically examined. (...) Finally, this paper ends with the claim that modesty as a virtue does not depend on possession of excellent qualities. (shrink)
This book is about the various forms of anxiety—some familiar, some not—that color and shape our lives. The objective is two-fold. The first aim is to deepen our understanding of what anxiety is. The second aim is to re-orient thinking about the role of emotions in moral psychology and ethical theory. Here I argue that the current focus on backward looking moral emotions like guilt and shame leaves us with a picture that is badly incomplete. To get a better understanding (...) of emotions’ place in the moral and evaluative domains, we must take note of the important role that forward looking emotions—anxiety in particular—play in moral thought and action. (shrink)
I explore the place of manners in the moral life, particularly with regard to their role in virtue education and in expressing virtue. The approach developed here is Aristotelian and Confucian in character. I identify and discuss three crucial functions of good manners: (1) they help social life to go well; (2) they often involve ways of showing respect or reverence for that which is respect-worthy or reverence-worthy; and (3) they ennoble our animal nature via an acquired second nature. In (...) light of this account I also discuss how concerns about arbitrariness, oppressiveness, and dishonesty with respect to manners can be overcome. (shrink)
This paper explores the virtue of integrity and certain paradoxes and problems with its assertion. It examines the social and pragmatic dimensions of integrity, especially as regards the norms of self-ascription. These generate a dangerous dialectic of perception and reality, and set up an illusory half-way house between inner possession and social attribution. The temptations to self-deception and impression management are inherent in any attempt at self-evaluation. This essay attempts to negotiate these conflicting tensions by advocating silence regarding one’s own (...) integrity, not just instrumentally but as an intrinsic requirement of authentic integrity. (shrink)
Bernard Williams is widely recognized as belonging among the greatest and most influential moral philosophers of the twentieth-century – and arguably the greatest British moral philosopher of the late twentieth-century. His various contributions over a period of nearly half a century changed the course of the subject and challenged many of its deepest assumptions and prejudices. There are, nevertheless, a number of respects in which the interpretation of his work is neither easy nor straightforward. One reason for this is that (...) both his views and his methods evolved and shifted in significant ways, especially around the time that he wrote and published Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (i.e. the early 1980s). One way of gauging and assessing these changes in Williams’ views and outlook is to consider his relationship and attitude to other philosophers during this period. Of particular interest is his changing attitude to the moral philosophy of David Hume. This relationship is of considerable importance, not only because it serves as a useful tool for the interpretation of Williams’ views but also because it provides us with some critical insight into the respective strengths and weaknesses of both Hume’s and Williams’ contributions. -/- . (shrink)
This book provides an entry-level introduction to philosophical ethics, theories of moral reasoning, and selected issues in applied ethics. Chapter 1 describes the importance of philosophical approaches to ethical issues, the general dialectical form of moral reasoning, and the broad landscape of moral philosophy. Chapter 2 presents egoism and relativism as challenges to the presumed objectivity and unconditionality of morality. Chapters 3, 4 and 5 discuss utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, respectively. Each chapter begins with a general overview of the (...) characteristic theory of value and moral reasoning and proceeds to present a more refined account based on a prominent historical source (Mill, Kant, and Aristotle, respectively). It then discusses strengths and weaknesses of the theory from a contemporary perspective, including more recent developments, defenses, and critiques. Each chapter includes an appendix in which secondary, less prominent, or more complex issues are discussed. Chapters 6-9 address in detail a prominent area of applied ethics: 6. abortion, 7. assisted dying, 8. Biotechnology, 9. Animals and eating. Each of these chapters presents an introduction to the topic, including definitions, historical and contemporary developments and contexts, etc.; the various questions and issues involved; and an application of each theory from multiple points of view. Each chapter also includes a set of primary readings along with an extensive bibliography. Chapter 10 discusses four more areas of applied ethics: War, Torture, and Terrorism; Capital Punishment; Environmental Ethics; and Same-Sex Marriage. The treatment of these topics focuses mainly on the introductory material. While there is some discussion of the various ethical arguments, it is less comprehensive or detailed compared to other chapters. However, several primary resources are listed to supplement the discussion in the textbook. (shrink)
Virtue theorists have recently been focusing on the important question of how virtues are developed, and doing so in a way that is informed by empirical research from psychology. However, almost all of this recent work has dealt exclusively with the moral virtues. In this paper, we present three empirically-informed accounts of how virtues can be developed, and we assess the merits of these accounts when applied specifically to intellectual (or epistemic) virtues.
This paper concerns virtue-based ethical principles that bear upon agricultural uses of technologies, such as GM crops and CRISPR crops. It does three things. First, it argues for a new type of virtue ethics approach to such cases. Typical virtue ethics principles are vague and unspecific. These are sometimes useful, but we show how to supplement them with more specific virtue ethics principles that are useful to people working in specific applied domains, where morally relevant domain-specific conditions recur. We do (...) this while still fulfilling the need for principles and associated practical reasoning to flexibly respect variation between cases. Second, with our more detailed approach we criticize and improve upon a commonly discussed principle about ecosystemic external goods that are crucial for human flourishing. We show this principle is far more conservative than appreciated, as it would prohibit many technology uses that are uncontroversially acceptable. We then replace this principle with two more specific ones. One identifies specific conditions in which ecosystem considerations are against a technology use, the other identifies favorable conditions. Third, we uncover a humility-based principle that operates within an influential “hubris argument” against uses of several biotechnologies in agriculture. These arguments lack a substantive theory of the nature of humility. We clarify such a theory, and then use it to replace the uncovered humility-based principle with our own more specific one that shifts focus from past moral failings, to current epistemic limits when deciding whether to support new technologies. (shrink)
Could a Nazi soldier or terrorist be courageous? The Courage Problem asks us to answer this sort of question, and then to explain why people are reluctant to give this answer. The present paper sheds new light on the Courage Problem by examining a controversy sparked by Bill Maher, who claimed that the 9/11 terrorists’ acts were ‘not cowardly.’ It is shown that Maher's controversy is fundamentally related to the Courage Problem. Then, a unified solution to both problems is provided. (...) This solution entails that gutsy people who lack good ends are not courageous. (shrink)
I argue for an egalitarian conception of modesty. Modesty is a virtue because an apt expression of what is, and is not, morally salient in our attitudes toward persons and is important because we are prone to arrogance, self‐importance, and hero worship. To make my case, I consider 3 claims which have shaped recent discussions: first, that modesty is valuable because it obviates destructive social rankings; second, that modesty essentially involves an indifference to how others evaluate one's accomplishments; and third, (...) the wide spread but normatively fraught assumption that the modest person is deserving of credit. Although the first two features identify something significant about modesty, they fail to ground it. I argue that appeals to deserved credit bear a larger explanatory burden than has been supposed; they can smuggle in the illegitimate social hierarchies that modesty is supposed to counter. I make my case for modesty as an excellence in moral perspective by arguing that prominent, nonegalitarian, accounts of modesty allow for or promote illegitimate forms of social privilege. Modesty is valuable because it expresses a commitment to fair distribution of basic moral recognition and a skillful response to unjust social hierarchies at odds with this fair distribution. (shrink)
The proliferation of new accounts of infused and acquired virtue in Thomas has brought much welcome attention to his understanding of the relationship between nature and grace. But the very originality of these interpretations has raised a multitude of unanswered questions and difficulties. For any of these accounts to be plausible, they must be accompanied by an account of the way in which Thomas thinks that the specifically one virtue of prudence considers the matter of all virtues, and his statement (...) that such prudence depends on a correct order to the ultimate end. The current disagreement over acquired moral virtue cannot be resolved until these related disagreements are adequately addressed. (shrink)
The still dominant virtue-ethical account of right action claims that an action is right just in case a virtuous agent would perform it. Because this account arguably fails to capture what makes actions right, virtue ethicists are well-advised to consider alternatives. I argue that a target-centered account, if suitably developed, succeeds in capturing what makes actions right. First, I explain why a target-centered account shows initial promise in capturing what makes actions right and present an interpretation of the account as (...) developed by its creator, Christine Swanton. Second, I argue that Swanton's and other prominent virtue ethicists’ views of virtuous action are defective, partly in virtue of accepting reasons of the wrong kind for an action’s being virtuous or vicious in respect to a virtue. My arguments, if successful, motivate an alternative version of the target-centered account. Finally, I contribute to the development of such an alternative by sketching a view of virtuous action that avoids the aforementioned defects and thereby promises full success in capturing what makes actions right. (shrink)
In this paper, I show that the conception of a virtue in positive psychology is a mishmash of two competing accounts of what virtues are: a Common Sense View and an Aristotelian View. Distinguishing the strengths and weaknesses of these two frameworks leads also to a reconsideration of an old debate, namely, that concerning the Unity of the Virtues thesis. Such thesis is rejected by positive psychologist, as well as by some philosophers among the virtue-ethical field, on the basis, I (...) argue, of a lack of accuracy in defining the very meaning of the concept of what virtues are, before examining the issues at stake. In the first part of the paper, I show to what extent the conceptions of virtue employed by the different voices diverge and the consequences of this divergence for the UV problem. Then, I go on by arguing for one of the two competing accounts, namely, the Aristotelian View, over the other, that is, the Common Sense View. Finally, I show to which of CSV theses positive psychologists are committed, so to explain their rejection of the UV thesis, and to highlight their need for a clearer account of what a virtue is. (shrink)
Ask a non-philosopher whether it’s rational to be moral, and she will likely think the answer is relatively clear: intuitively, what is moral is often at odds with what is rational. For example, although giving a dollar to a needy stranger would be a moral thing to do, the rational thing to do would be to keep it for yourself. Among professional philosophers, by contrast, the answer is not so obvious. Philosophers have subtle views of rationality and morality. Seldom, if (...) ever, do they understand norms of rationality as straightforwardly implying that we single-mindedly pursue our own self-interest, narrowly construed, and seldom, if ever, do they understand norms of morality as straightforwardly implying that we should always help others, regardless of our circumstances. -/- Among philosophers, then, the proposal that it is rationally permissible, or even required, to be moral, is not dismissed out of hand in light of apparent counterexamples. I propose that philosophers should take the same open-minded attitude to the proposal that virtue is compatible with, or even necessary for, well-being. Philosophers have sometimes denied that virtue is necessary for well-being on much the same grounds that our envisioned person on the street dismissed the possibility that morality may be rationally required: by pointing out apparent counterexamples (Haybron 2007: 5–11; see Chapter 15 by Besser-Jones, this volume). But, just like the question “is it rational to be moral?” the question “is virtue compatible with, or even required for, well-being?” cannot be dismissed so easily, because apparent counterexamples depend on only intuitive, commonsense, pre-theoretical understandings of virtue and well-being. -/- Any claim about the relationship between virtue and well-being must take the form of a con- ditional—for example: if this account of virtue and this account of well-being are correct, then virtue is necessary for (or compatible with, or the best bet for achieving, etc.) well-being.2 This point sets the structure for this chapter. In this chapter, I will (1) sketch an account of virtue, (2) develop a specific sense in which one might argue that virtue is necessary for well-being, and (3) explore the prospects for the proposal that virtue is necessary for well-being, discussing some of the main accounts of well-being in turn. I will argue that on some (though not all) accounts of well-being, there is reason to think that, when we more fully develop an account of the (fundamental, direct, intrinsic) contributors to well-being, we may discover that virtue is indeed necessary for well-being. (shrink)
The Onion, a widely known satirical newspaper, frequently finds its articles taken as the literal truth. One article from May 2011, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex,” featured teenage girls gushing over the amusement park amenities like a ten-screen theater, nightclub and “lazy river” and a fake PR representative touting, “Whether she’s a high school junior who doesn’t want to go to prom pregnant, a go-getter professional who can’t be bothered with the time commitment of raising a child, or a (...) prostitute who knows getting an abortion is the easiest form of birth control—all are welcome” and “Our hope is for this facility to become a regular destination where a woman in her second trimester can whoop it up at karaoke and then kick back while we vacuum out the contents of her uterus.”The Onion, “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” . Given the extremity and arguable tastelessness of this joke, it is nearly impossible to imagine this as anything .. (shrink)
Having established her pluralistic account as an influential position within contemporary virtue ethics, in this work Christine Swanton offers a virtue-ethical reading of David Hume and Friedrich Nietzsche with the aim of showing how they can further the development of virtue ethics beyond the Aristotelian and ancient eudaemonist traditions. Readers of Swanton’s other major work, Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View, may recall that many of its philosophical resources were drawn from Nietzsche and, to a lesser extent, from Hume. This new (...) study can be seen as offering a fuller and more historically grounded reading of the work of both thinkers. Swanton has also published on... (shrink)
This essay develops a framework for understanding what I call the ethics of reflexivity, that is, the norms that govern attitudes and actions with respect to one’s own worth. I distinguish five central aspects of the reflexive commitment to living in accordance with one’s personal ideals: the extent to which and manner in which one regards oneself from an evaluative point of view, the extent to which one cares about receiving the respect of others, the degree to which one interprets (...) one’s personal ideals in an individualistic or collective manner, the degree to which one’s commitment to living in accordance with one’s personal ideals is rigid or flexible, and the worthiness of one’s personal ideals. This framework, I argue, illuminates the nature and moral significance of virtuous and vicious forms of the character trait of pride. (shrink)
The situationist movement in psychology and, more recently, in philosophy has been associated with a number of striking claims, including that most people do not have the moral virtues and vices, that any ethical theory which is wedded to such character traits is empirically inadequate, and that much of our behavior is causally influenced, to significant degrees, by psychological influences about which we are often unaware. Yet Christian philosophers have had virtually nothing to say about situationist claims. The goal of (...) this paper is to consider whether Christians should start to be worried about them. (shrink)
Virtues are acquirable, so if intellectual humility is a virtue, it’s acquirable. But there is something deeply problematic—perhaps even paradoxical—about aiming to be intellectually humble. Drawing on Edward Slingerland’s analysis of the paradoxical virtue of wu-wei in Trying Not To Try (New York: Crown, 2014), we argue for an anti-individualistic conception of the trait, concluding that one’s intellectual humility depends upon the intellectual humility of others. Slingerland defines wu-wei as the “dynamic, effortless, and unselfconscious state of mind of a person (...) who is optimally active and effective” (Trying Not to Try, 7). Someone who embodies wu-wei inspires implicit trust, so it is beneficial to appear wu-wei. This has led to an arms race between faking wu-wei on the one hand and detecting fakery on the other. Likewise, there are many benefits to being (or seeming to be) intellectually humble. But someone who makes conscious, strategic efforts to appear intellectually humble is ipso facto not intellectually humble. Following Slingerland’s lead, we argue that there are several strategies one might pursue to acquire genuine intellectual humility, and all of these involve commitment to shared social or epistemic values, combined with receptivity to feedback from others, who must in turn have and manifest relevant intellectual virtues. In other words, other people and shared values are partial bearers of a given individual’s intellectual humility. If this is on the right track, then acquiring intellectual humility demands epistemic anti-individualism. (shrink)
This paper concerns the central virtue ethical thesis that the ethical quality of an agent's actions is a function of her dispositional character. Skeptics have rightly urged us to distinguish between an agent's particular intentions or occurrant motives and dispositional facts about her character, but they falsely contend that if we are attentive to this distinction, then we will see that the virtue ethical thesis is false. In this paper I present a new interpretation and defense of the virtue ethical (...) thesis and show how to rebuff the skeptical attacks advanced by Thomas Hurka, Julia Markovits, and Roger Crisp. The key, I contend, is for virtue ethicists to adopt an embodied value conception of character instead of the aretaic trait conception suggested by Aristotle. (shrink)
In his chapter ‘Aristotle on Virtue: Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong’, Thomas Hurka advances penetrating criticisms of some of the core theses of the Aristotelian approach to virtue. Hurka challenges the Aristotelian tendency to blur the distinction between the good and the right by making the virtues, which are constitutive of a person’s goodness, objects of praise or blame. He puts into question the Aristotelian doctrine of the mean and the idea that vice can always be explained in terms of either (...) excess or deficiency. Most importantly, he challenges what he calls the foundational egoism of Aristotelian virtue theory, according to which a virtuous person’s ultimate reason for being virtuous is grounded in their concern for their own flourishing. Hurka contrasts his criticism with a sketch of his own recursive theory of virtue, which is opposed to the Aristotelian approach in crucial respects and thus suggests itself as an attractive alternative to it. (shrink)
In this article I seek to show the importance of spirituality for a neo-Aristotelian account of ‘the good life’. First, I lay out my account of spirituality. Second, I discuss why the issue of the place of spirituality in the good life has often either been ignored or explicitly excluded from consideration by neo-Aristotelians. I suggest that a lot turns on how one understands the ‘ethical naturalism’ to which neo-Aristotelians are committed. Finally, I argue that through a deeper exploration of (...) the evaluative standpoint from within our human form of life as ‘meaning-seeking animals’ we can come to better appreciate the importance of spirituality for human beings throughout recorded history up to the present and why we can be described as homo religiosus. (shrink)
The harmony thesis claims that a virtuous agent will not experience inner conflict or pain when acting. The continent agent, on the other hand, is conflicted or pained when acting virtuously, making him inferior to the virtuous agent. But following Karen Stohr’s counterexample, we can imagine a case like a company owner who needs to fire some of her employees to save her company, where acting with conflict or pain is not only appropriate, but necessary in the situation. This creates (...) a problem for virtue ethicists because the virtue/continence distinction cannot easily be drawn in the case. One solution offered by Stohr is to claim that a virtuous agent will respond with an intensity of feeling corresponding to her correct judgment, whereas a continent agent will miss the mark: he will feel too much or too little pain in response to his correct judgment of value. This demarcation, I argue, is too strict because it entails something like a mean resembling a moral virtue or vice regarding pain, being inconsistent with our ordinary understanding of continence. In dealing with the difficulty, I argue that Aristotle’s virtue of endurance is better suited to account for the problem case. The following move explains why the case of the company owner is problematic: the company owner was missing a virtue on which we did not have the conceptual resources to elaborate. This points to a deeper problem in virtue ethics that needs to be addressed. (shrink)
Several authors have recently begun to apply virtue theory to argumentation. Critics of this programme have suggested that no such theory can avoid committing an ad hominem fallacy. This criticism is shown to trade unsuccessfully on an ambiguity in the definition of ad hominem. The ambiguity is resolved and a virtue-theoretic account of ad hominem reasoning is defended.
In addition to the traditional reliance on rules and codes in regulating the conduct of military personnel, most of today’s militaries put their money on character building in trying to make their soldiers virtuous. Especially in recent years it has time and again been argued that virtue ethics, with its emphasis on character building, provides a better basis for military ethics than deontological ethics or utilitarian ethics. Although virtue ethics comes in many varieties these days, in many texts on military (...) ethics dealing with the subject of military virtues the Aristotelian view on virtues is still pivotal. Developing virtues is by some authors seen as the best way to prevent misconduct by military personnel, it being considered superior to rules or codes of conduct imposed from above. The main argument these authors offer is that these solutions are impotent when no one is around, and lack the flexibility often thought necessary in today’s world. Finally, rules and codes try to condition behavior, leaving less room for personal integrity. At first sight, then, there is a great deal to say in favor of virtue ethics as being the best way of enhancing the chances of soldiers behaving morally. However, this preference for steering conduct by means of promoting certain desirable dispositions is not without any problems that, as it stands, are hardly ever addressed. To begin with, there are a few practical concerns. For instance, even if we assume that military virtues can assist military personnel to do their work in a morally sound manner, it is still not clear to what extent virtues can, in fact, be taught to them. It is an assumption of virtue ethics that they can, but is this really the case? And if so, how should they be taught? – virtues are supposedly developed by practicing them, yet how much room is there for practicing virtues in for instance the ethics education as followed in military academies and school battalions? Secondly, it appears that the traditional military virtues, such as honor, loyalty, courage, and obedience, are, especially in their common interpretation, mainly beneficial to colleagues and the organization, not so much to the local population of the countries military personnel are deployed to. Changes in the military’s wider environment have led to a shift from traditional of self-defense tasks to new, more complex tasks, and especially in today’s missions one could expect that the proper virtues are not necessarily solely the more martial ones. (shrink)
Title in English: Pastoral Counseling Psychology: Premarital, Marriage, and Family Contexts. "Pastoral counseling" is different from "Christian counseling". Pastoral counseling is a counseling orientation (not a theoretical school) that emphasizes openness to exploration (including tolerating mystery or ambiguity) of spiritual and religious issues (e.g., the concept of God) on clients and between clients and counselors, in which case the issue might be viewed as the root of daily life problems. Pastoral counseling still uses the concepts of counseling psychology or psychotherapy (...) in general, such as the helping relationship or therapeutic relations. Pastoral counseling psychology is demanded to be pro-active, continuous challenging itself to perform critical reflection and to contribute thoughts and praxis "in concreto" in solving psychological problems. (shrink)
In The Impossibility of Perfection, Michael Slote tries to show that the traditional Aristotelian doctrine of the unity of the virtues is mistaken. His argumentative strategy is to provide counterexamples to this doctrine, by showing that there are what he calls “partial virtues”—pairs of virtues that conflict with one another but both of which are ethically indispensible. Slote offers two lines of argument for the existence of partial virtues. The first is an argument for the partiality of a particular pair (...) of virtues: frankness and tact. The second is a kind of feminist critique. I argue that both of these lines of argument fail. In both cases, Slote fails to ask whether the apparent conflict between putatively partial virtues has arisen from a misunderstanding of the demands of those virtues. From this error I suggest we can learn an important lesson: whether in our studies thinking about the virtues or in our everyday lives trying to practice them, it is a serious mistake to focus on the relationships among virtues without considering precisely what each of these virtues demands. (shrink)
There has been a recent surge of interest in the moral philosophy of Iris Murdoch. One issue that has arisen is whether her view advocates a form of moral perception. In this paper I argue that her view does indeed advocate for a form of moral perception—what I call weak moral perception. In the process of moral reasoning weak moral perception plays a preparatory role for moral judgment, which means that moral judgment isn’t simply a matter of seeing what action (...) to perform, but that the right kind of perception is crucial to being able to make good moral decisions. One aspect of Murdoch’s account that has aroused special interest is her suggestion that the right kind of perception relies on the agent’s being in a state of love. I give what I think is the correct account of Murdochian love, which then allows me to defend her view against red herring-type objections raised recently by David Velleman and Charles Starkey. (shrink)
Does possessing some human virtues make it impossible for a person to possess other human virtues? Isaiah Berlin and Bernard Williams both answered “yes” to this question, and they argued that to hold otherwise—to accept the harmony of the virtues—required a blinkered and unrealistic view of “what it is to be human.” In this essay, I have two goals: (1) to show how the harmony of the virtues is best interpreted, and what is at stake in affirming or denying it; (...) and (2) to provide a partial defense of the harmony of the virtues. More specifically, I show how the harmony of the virtues can be interpreted and defended within the kind of Aristotelian naturalism developed by philosophers such as Philippa Foot, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Michael Thompson. I argue that far from being an embarrassing liability for Aristotelianism—based in an “archaic metaphysical biology”—the harmony thesis is an interesting and plausible claim about human excellences, supported by a sophisticated account of the representation of life, and fully compatible with a realistic view of our human situation. (shrink)
Celem niniejszego artykułu jest prezentacja koncepcji brytyjskiego filozofa zorientowana na normatywną stronę jego myśli, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem (w części pierwszej) rewolucyjnego, wyrastającego z marksistowskiego zaplecza MacIntyre ujęcia problematyki moralnej. W części drugiej omawiam etyczny składnik „rewolucyjnego arystotelizmu” MacIntyre’a, akcentując emancypacyjny, zakorzeniony w owym zapleczu charakter rozwijanej przez niego teorii cnót i praktyk, by w części trzeciej omówić przynajmniej niektóre konsekwencje społeczne (praktyczne) omawianego projektu.