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See Foot Foot, Philippa. Her account contrasts with other attempts to separate justice from the other moral virtues entirely. Singapore : Marshall Cavendish. Her reason for denying that Confucianism is a virtue ethics is similar to Chong's which I discuss in note Their prioritizing the community over the individual in role ethics is similar to Nuyen's Nuyen, AT.

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Nuyen argues for a Chinese view of the self that prioritizes one's roles over the individual, resulting in the difference between Chinese and Western conceptions of virtue. Nuyen maintains that whereas Chinese virtues and the self are community oriented and based, its Western counterparts are individualistic. That virtues are quite compatible with one's roles in the community is a lesson we learn from Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue. See Statman Statman, Daniel.

Virtue ethics: A critical reader , Washington, D. Rosemont and Ames also try to distinguish their Confucian role ethics from an Aristotelian virtue ethics by pointing out the latter's reliance on a metaphysics of human nature, emphasis on rationality and abstract laws instead of the emotions and role models. I say more about laws for Aristotle and Confucius in this essay.

The Practice of Virtue: Classic and Contemporary Readings in Virtue Ethics (2006-03-15)

Understanding virtue ethics , Stocksfield , UK : Acumen. Statman Statman, Daniel. Due to the scope of this paper and my current purposes, I will restrict myself to the few, crude differences I have mentioned. Belmont , CA : Wadsworth. No one has a moral right to our generosity or beneficence because we are not morally bound to practice those virtues toward any given individual. Nicomachean Ethics Terence Irwin, Trans. NE , hereafter.

The Analects of Confucius: A philosophical translation. I think that Chong is right to see the kinship between rituals and rules, but he is too quick to dismiss any compatibility between rules or laws and virtue ethics. That virtue ethics cannot rely on rules or laws alone to make one moral is obvious for both Aristotle and Confucius. But nothing in their thoughts prevents a combination of virtues and laws for cultivating moral character.

His co-editor of this anthology makes the same mistake. The problems of a political animal: Community, justice and conflict in Aristotelian political thought , Berkeley , CA : University of California Press. See ch. All references to the Politics are taken from Aristotle Aristotle. Bekker page numbers are from the Loeb edition of the Politics , translated by Rackham, see Aristotle Aristotle. Politics H. Rackham, Trans. How to think about virtue and right. Philosophical Papers , 35 2 : — After Hume's justice.

Eating Animals - Humanities Libertexts

Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society , — Such a society's function is to enable its members to achieve eudaimonia through just laws, where eudaimonia entails virtuous activity p. I am sympathetic with her derivation of rights from Aristotle's laws even though I disagree with details of her argument. Other laws, however, can on her view, vary between different societies and still be just.

Virtue Ethics - Application - Practical Wisdom

She admits that it is difficult to figure out which laws are derived from human nature and hence are natural laws. Consequently, Hursthouse's remark about the difficulty of figuring out which laws are natural cannot be true of Aristotle. Whichever laws permit our development of these virtues would be natural for Aristotle.


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This is at odds with Aristotle's soul doctrine which determines that every individual soul, has the specific parts of speculation and deliberation. Thus each person depends on the proper functioning of these parts for virtue and eudaimonia. Contrary to Hursthouse's interpretation that rights depend on laws establishing what is mine and yours for Aristotle, Aristotle's laws are more communal, urging the cultivation of virtues and fair actions in each of us, which cultivation is summed up in his view of general justice, a perfection of our other-regarding virtues.

Such ignorance in small children is rarely, if ever culpable, and frequently not in adolescents, but it usually is in adults. Adults are culpable if they mess things up by being thoughtless, insensitive, reckless, impulsive, shortsighted, and by assuming that what suits them will suit everyone instead of taking a more objective viewpoint. They are also, importantly, culpable if their understanding of what is beneficial and harmful is mistaken.

It is part of practical wisdom to know how to secure real benefits effectively; those who have practical wisdom will not make the mistake of concealing the hurtful truth from the person who really needs to know it in the belief that they are benefiting him. The detailed specification of what is involved in such knowledge or understanding has not yet appeared in the literature, but some aspects of it are becoming well known.

Even many deontologists now stress the point that their action-guiding rules cannot, reliably, be applied correctly without practical wisdom, because correct application requires situational appreciation—the capacity to recognise, in any particular situation, those features of it that are morally salient. This brings out two aspects of practical wisdom. One is that it characteristically comes only with experience of life. Amongst the morally relevant features of a situation may be the likely consequences, for the people involved, of a certain action, and this is something that adolescents are notoriously clueless about precisely because they are inexperienced.

It is part of practical wisdom to be wise about human beings and human life. It should go without saying that the virtuous are mindful of the consequences of possible actions. How could they fail to be reckless, thoughtless and short-sighted if they were not? The aspect that is more usually stressed regarding situational appreciation is the practically wise agent's capacity to recognise some features of a situation as more important than others, or indeed, in that situation, as the only relevant ones.

The wise do not see things in the same way as the nice adolescents who, with their imperfect virtues, still tend to see the personally disadvantageous nature of a certain action as competing in importance with its honesty or benevolence or justice. These aspects coalesce in the description of the practically wise as those who understand what is truly worthwhile, truly important, and thereby truly advantageous in life, who know, in short, how to live well.

The concept of eudaimonia , a key term in ancient Greek moral philosophy, is central to any modern neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and usually employed even by virtue ethicists who deliberately divorce themselves from Aristotle. Each translation has its disadvantages. It is for me, not for you, to pronounce on whether I am happy, or on whether my life, as a whole, has been a happy one, for, barring, perhaps, advanced cases of self-deception and the suppression of unconscious misery, if I think I am happy then I am—it is not something I can be wrong about.

Contrast my being healthy or flourishing. Here we have no difficulty in recognizing that I might think I was healthy, either physically or psychologically, or think that I was flourishing and just be plain wrong. It is all too easy for me to be mistaken about whether my life is eudaimon the adjective from eudaimonia not simply because it is easy to deceive oneself, but because it is easy to have a mistaken conception of eudaimonia , or of what it is to live well as a human being, believing it to consist largely in physical pleasure or luxury for example.

All usual versions of virtue ethics agree that living a life in accordance with virtue is necessary for eudaimonia.

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This supreme good is not conceived of as an independently defined state or life made up of, say, a list of non-moral goods that does not include virtuous activity which possession and exercise of the virtues might be thought to promote. It is, within virtue ethics, already conceived of as something of which virtue is at least partially constitutive. Thereby virtue ethicists claim that a human life devoted to physical pleasure or the acquisition of wealth is not eudaimon , but a wasted life, and also accept that they cannot produce a knock-down argument for this claim proceeding from premises that the happy hedonist would acknowledge.

But although all standard versions of virtue ethics insist on that conceptual link between virtue and eudaimonia , further links are matters of dispute and generate different versions. For Aristotle, virtue is necessary but not sufficient—what is also needed are external goods which are a matter of luck. For Plato, and the Stoics, it is both Annas , and modern versions of virtue ethics disagree further about the link between eudaimonia and what gives a character trait the status of being a virtue.

According to eudaimonism, the good life is the eudaimon life, and the virtues are what enable a human being to be eudaimon because the virtues just are those character traits that benefit their possessor in that way, barring bad luck. So there is a link between eudaimonia and what confers virtue status on a character trait. But according to pluralism, there is no such tight link.

And according to naturalism, the good life is the life characteristically lived by someone who is good qua human being, and the virtues enable their possessor to live such a life because the virtues just are those character traits that make their possessor good qua human being an excellent specimen of her kind Foot At the time, utilitarians and deontologists commonly though not universally held that the task of ethical theory was to come up with a code consisting of universal rules or principles possibly only one, as in the case of act-utilitarianism which would have two significant features:.

Virtue ethicists maintained, contrary to these two claims, that it was quite unrealistic to imagine that there could be such a code see, in particular, McDowell The results of attempts to produce and employ such a code, in the heady days of the s and s, when medical and then bioethics boomed and bloomed, tended to support the virtue ethicists' claim.

More and more utilitarians and deontologists found themselves agreed on their general rules but on opposite sides of the controversial moral issues in contemporary discussion. It came to be recognised that moral sensitivity, perception,imagination, and judgement informed by experience— phronesis in short—is needed to apply rules or principles correctly. Hence many though by no means all utilitarians and deontologists have explicitly abandoned b and much less emphasis is placed on a.

Nevertheless, the complaint that virtue ethics does not produce codifiable principles is still a commonly voiced criticism of the approach, expressed as the objection that it is, in principle, unable to provide action-guidance. Initially, the objection was based on a misunderstanding. It is a noteworthy feature of our virtue and vice vocabulary that, although our list of generally recognised virtue terms is comparatively short, our list of vice terms is remarkably, and usefully, long, far exceeding anything that anyone who thinks in terms of standard deontological rules has ever come up with.

Much invaluable action guidance comes from avoiding courses of action that would be irresponsible, feckless, lazy, inconsiderate, uncooperative, harsh, intolerant, selfish, mercenary, indiscreet, tactless, arrogant, unsympathetic, cold, incautious, unenterprising, pusillanimous, feeble, presumptuous, rude, hypocritical, self-indulgent, materialistic, grasping, short-sighted, vindictive, calculating, ungrateful, grudging, brutal, profligate, disloyal, and on and on. Some have arisen in response to Johnson's challenging emphasis on the obvious rightness of a non-virtuous agent's attempting self-improvement Johnson ; van Zyl , some in response to the obvious relevance of motive to the moral worth of actions Slote , some aiming to distinguish action guidance from a theoretical account of what makes actions right Swanton ; Zagzebski Zagzebski, in particular, regards action guidance as a secondary aim of moral theory; her theory places the moral exemplar centre stage of an abstract structure, but certainly not in the absurd position of the person the fifteen year old is supposed to think about when contemplating abortion.

Rather, the other concepts right act, virtue etc. Insofar as the different versions of virtue ethics all retain an emphasis on the virtues, they are open to the familiar problem of ii the charge of cultural relativity. Is it not the case that different cultures embody different virtues, MacIntyre and hence that the v-rules will pick out actions as right or wrong only relative to a particular culture? Different replies have been made to this charge. They admit that, for them, cultural relativism is a challenge, but point out that it is just as much a problem for the other two approaches.

The putative cultural variation in character traits regarded as virtues is no greater—indeed markedly less—than the cultural variation in rules of conduct, and different cultures have different ideas about what constitutes happiness or welfare. That cultural relativity should be a problem common to all three approaches is hardly surprising. A bolder strategy involves claiming that virtue ethics has less difficulty with cultural relativity than the other two approaches.

Much cultural disagreement arises, it may be claimed, from local understandings of the virtues, but the virtues themselves are not relative to culture Nussbaum Charity prompts me to kill the person who would be better off dead, but justice forbids it.