In Defense of the Primacy of Virtues

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy

By Jason Kawall

"In recent decades there has been a great deal of interest in virtue ethics, broadly construed. There are, of course, many different such theories, and some dispute over what conditions a theory must meet to qualify as a virtue ethics. In what follows, I respond to a set of basic objections to a paradigmatic set of such theories – those virtue ethics according to which moral properties such as rightness and goodness (and their corresponding concepts) are to be explained in terms of the virtues or virtuous agents (and similarly with their corresponding concepts)

The basic intuition underlying the objections is that our virtue concepts (or, indeed, the concept of a virtue, tout court) must be derivative from other, more fundamental moral concepts. Similarly, the virtues themselves – as well as their value – are thought to be best understood in terms of the right or the good. Virtue theorists have, in some way, confused cart and horse. Conse- quentialists will treat the virtues as character traits that serve to maximize (or produce sufficient quantities of) the good, where the good is taken as explanatorily basic. Deontologists will understand the virtues in terms of dis- positions to respect and act in accordance with moral rules, or to perform morally right actions, where these moral rules or right actions are fundamental. Furthermore, the virtues will be considered valuable just insofar as they involve such tendencies to maximize the good or to perform right actions. "

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(Something interesting I found)Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 by ajstasic
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