Medical Ethics Harootunian 10/26/11 2 Again, which premise in the above argument does Oakley deny? Answer: Premise 1! Oakley says that the argument is unsound because premise 1 is false. He denies that the criterion of rightness has the consequence that the well-intentioned, bungling do-gooding act is the morally right act. Why? Because, he says, the virtuous person has a practical component which involves being able to successfully bring about what the virtue requires. He says that the doctor, the father, the nurse are obviously missing this practical component and, as a result, aren’t virtuous. The virtuous person wouldn’t do any of these acts because the virtuous person has the practical component. He also suggests that these three well-intentioned bungling do-gooders might be said to lack not just this practical component but some other virtue that is relevant in the case – the virtue of honesty, for instance. So, this response amounts to a denial of premise 1 as well. Oakley’s first idea here, the “practical component” of a virtue, is an idea that can be traced back to Aristotle. And Beauchamp and Childress (B&C) have this practical component in mind in the following passage on moral blame and moral praise (the bold is mine): We have been arguing that judgments of agents’ praiseworthiness and blameworthiness are directly tied to their motives, which are signs of character. Nonetheless, the merit of an action does not reside entirely in motive or character.
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