How to think about virtue and right

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Abstract

Robert Johnson argues that virtue ethical accounts of right action fail because they cannot take account of the fact that there are things we ought to do precisely because we do not possess virtuous character traits. Self-improving actions are his paradigm case and it would indeed be a problem if virtue ethics could not make sense of the propriety of self-improvement. To solve this serious problem, I propose that virtue ethics ought to define right action in terms of the virtuous agent's reasons for action instead of defining right action in terms of the actions that the virtuous agent performs. I argue that this revised definition of right action makes sense of the Tightness of self-improving actions and that it can be given a genuinely virtue ethical interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-265
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Papers
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2006

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