Virtues and Vices

Virtues and Vices

Virtues and Vices

Virtues and Vices

Excerpt

My study of virtues and vices was begun in the hope of circumventing certain vexing problems in moral philosophy. I had thought that if I concentrated upon character traits, the idea of moral rules or laws could be dispensed with, and the familiar problems about the origin, nature, and authority of such rules avoided. This proved to be a vain hope. Such virtues as honesty, fairness, and being a person of one's word are indispensable elements in good. character. These traits, which I call forms of conscientiousness, are essentially attitudes toward moral requirements or rules. Not only are there problems about these requirements, but there are related questions about what one's attitude should be toward such requirements. Is it, for example, altogether consistent with reasonableness and good judgment for one conscientiously to keep one's word and to fulfill one's other obligations, or is this conscientiousness a form of "rule worship" and an abdication of one's moral and intellectual autonomy? If one were sufficiently kind and compassionate, could one dispense with conscientiousness altogether and still satisfy reason-

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