Chapter

Resolvable Dilemmas

Rosalind Hursthouse

in On Virtue Ethics

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780199247998
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597756 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199247994.003.0003
 Resolvable Dilemmas

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V‐ rules may seem to fall foul of ‘the conflict problem’, failing to give us action guidance, when the requirements of different virtues conflict. Where hard cases or dilemmas are, ex hypothesi, resolvable, virtue ethics in fact employs a strategy similar to that of some forms of deontology: it argues that the putative conflicts are merely apparent. That recognizing a conflict as merely apparent may call for moral wisdom or phronesis is explicitly acknowledged in virtue ethics, which takes seriously Aristotle's point that moral knowledge, unlike mathematical knowledge, cannot be acquired merely by attending lectures, and is not characteristically to be found in people too young to have much experience of life. A normative ethics should not aim to provide a decision procedure that any reasonably clever adolescent could apply.

Keywords: conflict problem; dilemmas; moral dilemma; moral wisdom; phronesis; virtue ethics

Chapter.  8323 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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