Stoic Virtue: A Contemporary Interpretation

Philosophers' Imprint 20 (18):1-20 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The Stoic understanding of virtue is often taken to be a non-starter. Many of the Stoic claims about virtue – that a virtue requires moral perfection and that all who are not fully virtuous are vicious – are thought to be completely out of step with our commonsense notion of virtue, making the Stoic account more of an historical oddity than a seriously defended view. Despite many voices to the contrary, I will argue that there is a way of making sense of these Stoic claims. Recent work in linguistics has shown that there is a distinction between relative and absolute gradable adjectives, with the absolute variety only applying to perfect exemplars. I will argue that taking virtue terms to be absolute gradable adjectives – and thus that they apply only to those who are fully virtuous – is one way to make sense of the Stoic view. I will also show how interpreting virtue theoretic adjectives as absolute gradable adjectives makes it possible to defend Stoicism against its most common objections, demonstrating how the Stoic account of virtue might once again be a player in the contemporary landscape of virtue theorizing.

Similar books and articles

Stoic tolerance.Andrew Fiala - 2003 - Res Publica 9 (2):149-168.
The Logical Structure of Stoic Ethics.Jarek Gryz - 2012 - Apeiron 45 (3):221-237.
Ethics in Stoic Philosophy.Julia Annas - 2007 - Phronesis 52 (1):58-87.
Virtue, Praise and Success.T. H. Irwin - 1990 - The Monist 73 (1):59-79.
Self-mastery and Stoic Ethics.Keith Campbell - 1985 - Philosophy 60 (233):327-340.
Defending Virtue against the Situationist Challenge.Justin Matchulat - 2014 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 88:245-258.
The Phronesis of the Stoic Sage.Danielle Lories - 1999 - Areté. Revista de Filosofía 11 (1):219-244.
Some Complexities of Categorizing Character Traits.Christian B. Miller - 2019 - In Elisa Grimi, John Haldane, Maria Margarita Mauri Alvarez, Michael Wladika, Marco Damonte, Michael Slote, Randall Curren, Christian B. Miller, Liezl Zyl, Christopher D. Owens, Scott J. Roniger, Michele Mangini, Nancy Snow & Christopher Toner (eds.), Virtue Ethics: Retrospect and Prospect. Springer. pp. 81-98.

Analytics

Added to PP
2020-04-28

Downloads
372 (#30,984)

6 months
79 (#12,891)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Wes Siscoe
University of Notre Dame

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
Ignorance: A Case for Scepticism.Peter K. Unger - 1975 - Oxford University Press.
Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
General semantics.David K. Lewis - 1970 - Synthese 22 (1-2):18--67.
Vagueness, truth and logic.Kit Fine - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):265-300.

View all 36 references / Add more references