Dilemmas for the Rarity Thesis in Virtue Ethics and Virtue Epistemology

Philosophia 44 (2):395-406 (2016)
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Abstract

“Situationists” such as Gilbert Harman and John Doris have accused virtue ethicists as having an “empirically inadequate” theory, arguing that much of social science research suggests that people do not have robust character traits as traditionally thought. By far, the most common response to this challenge has been what I refer to as “the rarity response” or the “rarity thesis”. Rarity responders deny that situationism poses any sort of threat to virtue ethics since there is no reason to suppose that the moral virtues are typical or widespread. But, far from being its saving grace, I will argue, the rarity thesis forces virtue ethicists into positions that are incompatible with their theoretical foundations or render their theory normatively irrelevant. The more the virtue ethicists modify their thesis to fit the empirical evidence and to be normatively relevant, the less they retain a virtue ethical theory. This is also the case for virtue epistemologists.

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Citations of this work

Virtue Epistemology.John Turri, Mark Alfano & John Greco - 1999 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:1-51.
Virtue epistemology.John Greco & John Turri - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior.John M. Doris - 2002 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The Right and the Good. Some Problems in Ethics.W. D. Ross - 1930 - Oxford: Clarendon Press. Edited by Philip Stratton-Lake.
Character as Moral Fiction.Mark Alfano - 2013 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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