Chapter

Rudiments 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/10.1093/0195093925.003.0005
Rudiments of Virtue Ethics

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Virtue ethics treats aretaic, as opposed to deontic, concepts as fundamental and focuses in the first instance on character traits or motives rather than actions. Virtue ethics also contrasts with utilitarianism (or consequentialism) because although both these approaches are self‐other symmetric, they embrace different forms of symmetry. Utilitarianism holds that one's concern for oneself should be no different, fundamentally, from the concern one has for each and every other individual. But such ”in sensu diviso” symmetry differs from an ”in sensu composito” symmetry that would have us be equally concerned with ourselves and with others considered as a class. Commonsense virtue ethics subscribes to the latter kind of symmetry because of the way in which it gives equal or nearly equal weight to both self‐benefiting and other‐benefiting virtues.

Keywords: aretaic; character traits; commonsense virtue; deontic; ethics; in sensu composito; in sensu diviso; motives; self‐other; symmetric; utilitarianism; virtue ethics

Chapter.  7627 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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