Descartes on the Unity of the Virtues

Journal of Philosophical Research 47:43-60 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Commentators have neglected a tension in Descartes’s virtue theory. In some texts, Descartes seems to argue that there are distinct virtues. In other texts, Descartes seems to argue that there is only a single virtue—the firm and constant resolution to use the will well. In this paper, I reconcile this tension. I argue that Descartes endorses a specific version of the unity of the virtues thesis, namely, the identity of the virtues. Nonetheless, Descartes has the resources to draw conceptual distinctions between various virtues. Distinct virtues are conceptually generated when we regard the firm and constant resolution to use the will well in different ways, that is, based on the different ways this resolution manifests in moral situations.

Similar books and articles

Descartes: Ethics.Saja Parvizian - 2020 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Unity of the intellectual virtues.Alan T. Wilson - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):9835-9854.
Socrates, the primary question, and the unity of virtue.Justin C. Clark - 2015 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 45 (4):445-470.
The Full Unity of the Virtues.Christopher Toner - 2014 - The Journal of Ethics 18 (3):207-227.
Are Moral and Intellectual Virtues Distinct?Heather Battaly - 2018 - Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 68:23-27.


Added to PP

409 (#51,115)

6 months
171 (#19,976)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Saja Parvizian
University of Illinois, Chicago (PhD)

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Nicomachean ethics. Aristotle - 1999 - New York: Clarendon Press. Edited by Michael Pakaluk. Translated by Michael Pakaluk.
The philosophical writings of Descartes.René Descartes - 1984 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Virtue and Reason.John Mcdowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.
Virtue and Reason.John McDowell - 1997 - In Roger Crisp & Michael Slote (eds.), Virtue Ethics. Oxford University Press.

View all 29 references / Add more references