Chapter

How Great a Good Is Virtue?

Thomas Hurka

in Virtue, Vice, and Value

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137163
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833283 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195137167.003.0005
How Great a Good Is Virtue?

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If virtue is an intrinsic good, how does its value compare with those of other goods such as pleasure, knowledge, and achievement? Whereas many philosophers hold that virtue is the greatest good, this chapter argues that virtue is a lesser good in the following sense: the value of an attitude to an object is always less than the value of that object, so, for example, the goodness of compassion for another's pain is always less than the evil of that pain. After presenting a series of arguments for this view, the chapter considers several objections to it, including one about sadistic pleasure, and then applies it to specific issues about moral self‐indulgence, private charity, and the theological problem of evil.

Keywords: charity; comparison; compassion; highest good; problem of evil; self‐indulgence; value; vice; virtue

Chapter.  15262 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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