Lecture 7 Outline

Lecture 7 Outline - What is a virtue? Aristotelian Virtue...

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Virtue Ethics Lecture 7 Summer School PHIL 102 1 What is a virtue? Aristotelian Virtue Ethical defnition: A virtue is a character trait that (together with phronesis ) is needed to achieve eudaimonia . ‘Character trait’ 1. A disposition or tendency to act in certain ways 2. A disposition to act for certain reasons 3. A disposition to feel certain emotions for certain reasons 2 Virtuous Act and Acting Virtuously Distinction between: the (really) virtuous agent the “merely continent” ( enkrateia ) Claim: a continent person can do a virtuous act, but they do not thereby act virtuously and are not thereby virtuous “...the continent person, knowing that his appetites are bad, because of reason does not follow them.” (NE 1145b) “We say that some people who do just actions are not yet just ; for example, those who do what is laid down by the laws either unwillingly, or through ignorance or for some other reasons, and not for the sake of the actions themselves (though they do indeed do what they should and what a good person is required to do)” (NE 1144a13-16) acts virtuous ly does virtuous acts 3 Possessing a Virtue ‘Acting honestly; an honest person’ 1. A disposition or tendency to act in certain ways You tend (more often than not) to do honest acts in the relevant circumstances 2. A disposition to act for certain reasons Your honest action is intentional (not by accident) and ‘chosen’ for a reason that recognises that it is valuable in itself to do (and not as a means to any other end) 3. A disposition to feel certain emotions for certain reasons You do honest acts willingly and with full emotional endorsement 4 What is involved in acting virtuously in a particular situation? In any context it is difFcult to Fnd the mean The factors that are relevant for the each virtue vary The relevant factors also vary with the circumstances “To have (such feelings as fear, conFdence, appetite, anger, and in general pleasure and pain) on the right occasions, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end and in the right way, is the mean and the best; and this is the business of virtue.” (NE 1106b21-2) 5 Practical Wisdom ( phronesis ) “Knowledge born of experience in life” (Hursthouse p66) sensitivity imagination perception judgment experience 6
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Two Opinions on Virtue Ethics 1. Virtue Ethics is an important corrective to various distortions and problems in Kantian Ethics (deontology) and Utilitarianism (consequentialism) virtues are valuable in their own right moral emotions are important in motivating agents good moral judgment needs sensitivity, experience and discernment, not slavishly following rules 2. Virtue Ethics is an alternative normative ethical theory in its own right (McNaughton, pp57-58)
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This note was uploaded on 02/16/2009 for the course PHIL PHIL 102 taught by Professor -- during the Spring '09 term at Auckland.

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Lecture 7 Outline - What is a virtue? Aristotelian Virtue...

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