How Self Narratives and Virtues Cause Action

In Joseph Ulatowski & Liezl Van Zyl (eds.), Virtue, Narrative, and Self: Explorations of Character in the Philosophy of Mind and Action. London: Routledge. pp. 69-90 (2021)
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Abstract

While the nature of the virtues and their role in human action are controversial, we wish to explore the thesis that virtues play a causal role in the production of action. One fruitful, though controversial, approach to understanding the nature of the self is through the notion of a narrative and in particular a person’s self narrative or narratives. Similarly we wish to explore the thesis that self narratives play a causal role in action. We consider how virtues and self-narratives interrelate and, in particular, how they play a comparable role in the production of action. The basic ideas in the literature concerning reasons as causes of action provide us with a useful starting point even though the focus on reasons has tended to sideline potential causal roles for both virtues and self-narratives. Without attempting to develop a new theory of causation, we draw a picture of how virtues and self-narratives, in relation to each other, can be regarded as causally effective in producing action.

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Joseph Ulatowski
University of Waikato

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