Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Point on Virtue Theory

A common assumption in criticisms of virtue theory is that in virtue theory the motivation is supposed to be obtaining (or possession) of the virtue rather than in (say) our fulfillment of our duty or contribution to general happiness. But this is quite clearly false. As I've pointed out before, "part of a virtue-theorist's whole point is that not only is the desire to be virtuous a good motivation, it is a meta-motivation that can (and must) subsume other moral motivations." The desire to be virtuous is not a desire for one action or type of action alone, but for a particular type of life, as manifest in all of one's actions. Thus, a genuine desire to be virtuous (as opposed to a desire merely to seem virtuous, without regard for the real particulars of virtue) unifies and organizes a wide array of other desires, both at a given moment and across time. Most of the criticisms of virtue theory collapse on this point.

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