Uneasy Virtue

Uneasy Virtue

Uneasy Virtue

Uneasy Virtue

Synopsis

Driver challenges Aristotle's classical theory of virtue, arguing that it fails to take into account virtues that do seem to involve ignorance or epistemic defect. Modesty, for example, is generally considered to be a virtue even though the modest person may be making an inaccurate assessment of his or her accomplishments. She argues that we should abandon the highly intellectualist view of virtue and instead adopt a consequentialist perspective that holds that virtue is simply a character trait that systematically produces good consequences.

Excerpt

Over the past few decades, criticism of Utilitarianism, and consequentialism more generally, has become increasingly fashionable. Currently popular is the view that the moral quality of our lives is best captured by alternative theories such as virtue ethics or Kantian ethics. These views are considered superior in that they avoid classic problems of Utilitarianism: they are not as demanding of moral agents, and they do not necessarily advocate an impersonal standard for determining right action. Further, each of these theories locates what is morally important or significant as being within the agent or agency, whereas consequentialist theories are typically viewed as locating these factors externally, in the form of consequences. Thus, while a Kantian maintains that the moral worth of a person's action is determined by conscious adherence to the Categorical Imperative, the Utilitarian holds that the rightness of the action is determined by its consequences. This feature of Utilitarianism is seen as a weakness since it is taken to 'alienate' the agent from morality and, further, render the agent hostage to the forces of moral luck. This book, however, will seek to defend consequentialism from the encroachment of virtue ethics in both its Aristotelian and Kantian forms by, first, pointing out serious internal deficiencies with Aristotelian virtue ethics; second, illustrating some of the limitations and the very narrow scope of virtue within the Kantian system; and, third, showing that consequentialism can well accommodate virtue evaluation. These three themes will be the central themes of the book. The final conclusion is that Consequentialism is not deserving of some recent attacks and that, once the theory is developed, its many advantages will outweigh those of its competitors.

In arguing for these claims I will challenge a long-held conception of . . .

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