The Monist: Vol. 99, No. 2, April 2016.
Accounts of virtue can be divided along a continuum between the robust and the minimal. The more robust an account of virtue is, the more psychological requirements it places on the possession of virtue; the most minimal account places the barest of psychological requirements on virtue. This article presents arguments in favor of opting for a minimal account of virtue. The opening of this article explores historical trends in the development of virtue theory that support this option. The remainder of this article discusses some of the arguments raised and suggested by historical figures in light of work on virtue by contemporary writers, and then makes a case for going even more minimal in a theory of virtue.
Virtue, Happiness, and Well-Being, MAURO ROSSI and CHRISTINE TAPPOLET
What is the relation between virtue and well-being? The claim is that, under certain conditions, virtue necessarily tends to have a positive impact on an individual's well-being. This is so because of the connection between virtue and psychological happiness, on the one hand, and between psychological happiness and well-being, on the other hand. In particular, the authors defend three claims: that virtue is constituted by a disposition to experience fitting emotions; that fitting emotions are constituents of fitting happiness; and that fitting happiness is a constituent of well-being. What follows is that, under certain conditions, virtue disposes the individual to experience well-being-constituting states. The authors end with a discussion of two objections that may be raised against their proposal.
Power, Virtue, and Vice, PEGGY DESAUTELS
The author approaches virtue theory in a way that avoids idealized social ontologies and instead focuses on social hierarchies that include relations of power. She focuses on the virtues tied to improving social environments--what she refers to as social-ethic virtues--and examines how the development of social-ethic virtues is influenced by motivations for and situations involving power. She draws on research in social and personality psychology to show that persons motivated by power and persons holding powerful social positions tend to behave in ways that correlate with certain virtuous and vicious patterns of behavior. She maintains that patterns of moral or vicious behavior habits tied to those in powerful positions are upheld by a combination of motivational dispositions and situational factors, and that although a strong and dominating sort of power can corrupt, an agentic power to effect social, political, and institutional change is necessary for the social-ethic virtues. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Virtue, Situationism, and the Cognitive Value of Art, JACOB BERGER and MARK ALFANO
Virtue-based moral cognitivism holds that at least some of the value of some art consists in conveying knowledge about the nature of virtue and vice. The authors explore a challenge to this view, which extends the so-called situationist challenge to virtue ethics. Evidence from social psychology indicates that individuals' behavior is often susceptible to trivial and normatively irrelevant situational influences. This evidence not only challenges approaches to ethics that emphasize the role of virtue but also undermines versions of moral cognitivism, because the value of art cannot consist in teaching persons about traits that do not exist. The authors thus recommend a new account of the cognitive value of art: art teaches how context and character interact to produce action.
Vice Epistemology, QUASSIM CASSAM
Vice epistemology is the philosophical study of the nature, identity, and epistemological significance of intellectual vices. Such vices include gullibility, dogmatism, prejudice, closed-mindedness, and negligence. These are intellectual character vices, that is, intellectual vices that are also character traits. The author asks how the notion of an intellectual character vice should be understood, whether such vices exist, and how they might be epistemologically significant. The proposal is that intellectual character vices are intellectual character traits that impede effective and responsible inquiry. He argues that situationist critiques of virtue epistemology pose no significant threat to this proposal. Social psychologists' studies of belief in conspiracy theories suggest that it is sometimes appropriate to explain questionable beliefs by reference to intellectual character vices. Neither regulative nor analytic epistemology has any good reason to question the epistemological significance of such vices.
Charging Others with Epistemic Vice, IAN JAMES KIDD
This article offers an analysis of the structure of epistemic vice-charging, the critical practice of charging other persons with epistemic vice. Several desiderata for a robust vice-charge are offered, and two deep obstacles to the practice of epistemic vice-charging are then identified and discussed. The problem of responsibility is that few people enjoy conditions that are required for effective socialization as responsible epistemic agents. The problem of consensus is that the efficacy of a vice-charge is contingent upon a degree of consensus between critic and target that is unlikely or impossible where vice-charging is most likely to be provoked. A robust critical practice of vice-charging is possible in principle but very difficult in practice.
Character, Caricature, and Gossip, BRIAN ROBINSON
Gossip is rarely praised. There seems little that is virtuous about talking behind someone's back. Whether there is anything virtuous about gossip, however, depends on the kind of gossip. Some gossip is idle, but some evaluative gossip promulgates and enforces norms. When properly motivated, such gossip effects positive change in society and counts as gossiping well. The virtue of gossiping well even includes some kinds of false gossip, namely, the sort that exaggerates a preexisting trait, thereby creating a caricature of a person's character, in order to establish a moral exemplar or antiexemplar.
Virtue and Prejudice: Giving and Taking Reasons, NOELL BIRONDO
The most long-standing criticism of virtue ethics in its traditional, eudaimonistic variety centers on its apparently foundational appeal to nature in order to provide a source of normativity. This article argues that a failure to appreciate that both the giving and the taking of reasons in sustaining an ethical outlook can distort a proper understanding of the available options for this traditional version of virtue ethics. To insist only on giving reasons, without also taking (maybe even considering) the reasons provided by others, displays a sadly illiberal form of prejudice. This article finds and criticizes such a distortion in Jesse Prinzt's recent discussion of the normativity challenge to Aristotelian virtue ethics, thus highlighting a common tendency that people can helpfully move beyond.
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|Title Annotation:||PHILOSOPHICAL ABSTRACTS|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2016|
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