Chapter

Some Advantages of Virtue Ethics

Michael Slote

in From Morality to Virtue

Published in print August 1995 | ISBN: 9780195093926
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833689 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195093925.003.0001
Some Advantages of Virtue Ethics

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Our commonsense thinking about the virtues has certain advantages over Kantian ethics and commonsense morality narrowly conceived. The latter two are committed to a self‐other asymmetry with respect to moral goodness and rightness: what harms the agent is not treated as morally criticizable in the way that what harms other people is. By contrast, our ordinary understanding of virtues allows for both self‐benefiting and other‐benefiting virtues, and what harms or is likely to harm the agent counts against his or her possession of the virtue of prudence as much as what is likely to harm others counts against his or her having the virtue of benevolence or kindness. But to treat what harms the agent as irrelevant to our deepest or most important ethical evaluations downgrades or devalues the agent himself or herself, and this criticism, while not applying to our ordinary thought about the virtues, does hold against both Kantianism and commonsense morality.

Keywords: asymmetry; commonsense morality; commonsense thinking; devalue; downgrade; Kantianism; self‐other; virtue

Chapter.  8693 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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