Virtue ethics is self-effacing

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):221 – 231 (2007)
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Abstract

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' [1976], 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 virtue ethics. I argue that this assessment is a mistake. Virtue ethics 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 virtue ethics 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 virtue ethics to its major rivals.

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Simon Keller
Victoria University of Wellington

Citations of this work

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Trust and sincerity in art.C. Thi Nguyen - 2021 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 8:21-53.
Is Virtue Ethics Self-Effacing?Glen Pettigrove - 2011 - The Journal of Ethics 15 (3):191-207.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Ethics and the limits of philosophy.Bernard Williams - 1985 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.

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