How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues

By Roger Crisp | Go to book overview

7 The Virtues and Human Nature

JULIA DRIVER

'Human Nature' has traditionally entered into virtue theory at two planes. The first is psychological: What are human beings like? What actions and feelings are they capable of? How are people typically motivated? After all, virtue will not prescribe what cannot be performed or felt by human beings. Even though I am endorsing the importance of psychology for virtue theory (since understanding human virtue will involve understanding our flaws and motives), my view is that within the virtue theory tradition the importance of psychology has been both underestimated and overestimated. Its importance has been underestimated in that some ethical disputes turn out to be disputes about human psychology. Its importance has been overestimated in that some writers have elevated one kind of psychology by making it definitional of virtue; thus subjective elements take on an exaggerated importance. I will argue that it is a mistake to define virtue in terms of particular types of intentional psychological states. My contention is that the behavioural aspects of virtue are more important than its phenomenology, because virtue is best defined along consequentialist lines.1

The second plane is a strange mixture of breadth and narrowness. Human nature is important in understanding the good to which virtuous agents aspire because an understanding of human nature will provide the basis for an understanding of 'human flourishing'. The intuition is that virtue promotes human good. The differences amongst theorists lie in how the connection is to be spelled out, and what exactly is to count as 'human flourishing' and whose flourishing--the agent's or others'-- is taken to be relevant. Views of virtues--what they are and how they

____________________
1
Virtue ethics is the project of basing ethics on virtue evaluation. I reject this approach. This is an essay in virtue theory, since what I am trying to do is give an account of what virtues are.

-111-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 264

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.