Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Symmetry

Michael Slote

in How Should One Live?

Published in print March 1998 | ISBN: 9780198752349
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597251 | DOI:
 Virtue Ethics, Utilitarianism, and Symmetry

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Unlike Kantian and common‐sense morality, both utilitarianism and our common‐sense thinking about the virtues place ultimate normative weight on benefiting both oneself and others. But for utilitarianism the self counts equally with each and every other person, whereas in our thought about how it is admirable to behave the interests of the self are roughly balanced against those of others ‘as a class’. This then yields, from the standpoint of common‐sense virtue ethics, a distinctive general injunction to act from balanced concern for self and others (considered as a class). Understood in this way, virtue ethics is a distinctive approach to the question ‘how should one live’?

Keywords: common‐sense morality; demandingness; self‐interest; utilitarianism; virtue; virtue ethics

Chapter.  5035 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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