Schizophrenia and the Virtues of Self-Effacement

Les ateliers de l'éthique/The Ethics Forum 11 (1):29-48 (2016)
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Michael Stocker’s “The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories” attacks versions of consequentialism and deontological ethics on the grounds that they are self-effacing. While it is often thought that Stocker’s argument gives us a reason to favour virtue ethics over those other theories, Simon Keller has argued that this is a mistake. He claims that virtue ethics is also self-effacing, and is therefore afflicted with the self-effacement- related problems that Stocker identifies in consequentialism and deontology. This paper defends virtue ethics against this claim. Although there is a kind of self-effacement invol- ved in the exercise of virtue, this is quite different from the so-called schizophrenia that Stocker thinks is induced by modern ethical theory. Importantly, manifesting virtue does not require one to embrace mutually inconsistent moral commitments, as is at times encouraged by consequentialists and deontologists. This paper also considers a reading of the virtue-ethical criterion of right action that is encouraged by Bernard Williams’s distinction between a de re and a de dicto interpretation of the phrase “acting as the virtuous person would.” I argue that such a reading addresses concerns that a virtue-ethi- cal criterion of right action inevitably generates a problematic form of self-effacement.



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Paul James Barry
University of Melbourne

Citations of this work

Schizophrenia and the Virtues of Self-Effacement.Barry Paul - 2016 - Les Ateliers de l'Éthique / the Ethics Forum 11 (1):29-48.

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References found in this work

Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Harvard University Press.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Alienation, consequentialism, and the demands of morality.Peter Railton - 1984 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 13 (2):134-171.

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