Rightness and Goodness in Agent-based Virtue Ethics

Journal of Philosophical Research 36:103-114 (2011)
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In Morals from Motives (2001) Michael Slote puts forward an agent-based virtue ethics that purports to derive an account of deontic terms from aretaic evaluations of motives or character traits. In this view, an action is right if and only if it proceeds from a good or virtuous motive or at least does not come from a bad motive, and wrong if it comes from a bad motive. I argue that Slote does not provide an account of right action at all, that is, if ‘right action’ is understood in the strict deontic sense of an act that is either permissible or obligatory. An examination of Slote’s treatment of the problem of moral luck shows that he presupposes a conceptual link between what is morally wrong and what is blameworthy. I conclude by suggesting that agent-based virtue ethics may do better as an attempt to eliminate deontic notions altogether.



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Liezl Van Zyl
University of Waikato

Citations of this work

Target-Centred Virtue Ethics: Aristotelian or Confucian?Philippe Brunozzi & Waldemar Brys - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-22.
Accidental rightness.Liezl van Zyl - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):91-104.

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References found in this work

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
On Some Vices of Virtue Ethics.Robert Louden - 1984 - American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (3):227 - 236.
Against Agent-Based Virtue Ethics.Michael S. Brady - 2004 - Philosophical Papers 33 (1):1-10.
Blameless Wrongdoing.Torbjörn Tännsjö - 1995 - Ethics 106 (1):120-127.

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