Philosophy

Please Note: The list below is not exhaustive, and contains mostly recent journal articles.

Snow, Nancy E.
Journal of Moral Philosophy10:3 (2013): 339-353

The Moral Psychology Handbook is a contribution to a relatively new genre of philosophical writing, the “handbook.” In the first section, I comment on an expectation about handbooks, namely that handbooks contain works representative of a field, and raise concerns about The Moral Psychology Handbook in this regard. In the rest of the article I comment in detail on two Handbook articles, “Moral Motivation” by Timothy Schroeder, Adina Roskies, and Shaun Nichols, and “Character” by Maria W. Merritt, John M. Doris, and Gilbert Harman. Both articles illustrate the perils as well as the promise of reliance on empirical studies for philosophers who work in moral psychology.

Greco, John
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research85 (July 2012): 1-26

Section 1 articulates a genus-species claim: that knowledge is a kind of success from ability. Equivalently: In cases of knowledge, S’s success in believing the truth is attributable to S’s ability. That idea is then applied to questions about the nature and value of knowledge. Section 2 asks what it would take to turn the genus-species claim into a proper theory of knowledge; that is, into informative, necessary and sufficient conditions. That question is raised in the context of an important line of objection against even the genus-species claim; namely, that there is no way to understand the attribution relation so that it does all the work that it is supposed to do. Section 3 reviews several extant proposals for understanding the attribution relation, and argues that none of them are adequate for answering the objection. Section 4 proposes a different way of understanding the relation, and shows how the resulting view does resolve the objection. Section 5 completes the new account by proposing a way to understand intellectual abilities. Section 6 briefly addresses Barn Façade cases and lottery propositions. Section 7 briefly addresses a question about the scope of knowledge; in particular, it shows how the new view allows a neo-Moorean response to skepticism.

Turri, John
Philosophers' Imprint13.10 (2013): 1–16

Professional philosophers say it’s obvious that a Gettier subject does not know. But experimental philosophers and psychologists have argued that laypeople and non-Westerners view Gettier subjects very differently, based on experiments where laypeople tend to ascribe knowledge to Gettier subjects. I argue that when effectively probed, laypeople and non-Westerners unambiguously agree that Gettier subjects do not know.

Frykholm, Erin
Philosophical Studies172 (August 2015): 2171-2191

Virtue ethical theories typically follow a neo-Aristotelian or quasi-Aristotelian model, making use of various combinations of key features of the Aristotelian model including eudaimonism (the notion that virtue is a necessary component of individual flourishing), perfectionism (the idea that the truly virtuous agent achieves a sort of moral perfection), an account of practical wisdom, and the thesis of the unity of the virtues (roughly, that the virtues form a unified set and are mutually realized). In this paper I motivate what I call a Humean virtue ethic, which is a deeply particularist account of virtue that rejects all of these central tenets, at least in their traditional forms. Focusing on three factors by which Hume determines virtue, I show that this view of virtue resonates with the aims of the moral particularist, who holds that there are no general moral principles and that right action is determined only with reference to context and on a case-by-case basis. I use Hume’s texts to introduce and motivate three claims, which I find plausible, and which I will show can be read together as entailing an interesting and underappreciated picture of virtue that is also able to solve an important dilemma for particularist virtue ethics.

McMullin, Irene
The Philosophical Quarterly60 (October 2010): 783-807

Recent attempts to explain why modesty should be considered a virtue have failed. A more adequate account is that modesty involves understanding how far one’s accomplishments ought to be taken as definitive of one’s value. Modest people communicate this self-understanding through behaviour motivated by the desire to ensure that their accomplishments do not cause pain to others. This virtuous mode of self-awareness involves recognizing that one is both defined by social standards of success and irreducible to these assessments. Modest agents do not think themselves ‘better’ than others, but recognize that they rank higher on the particular social standard in question. They thus both avoid causing pain and serve as exemplars of virtuous self-responsibility.

Doviak, Daniel
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice14 (June 2011): 259-272

In Morals From Motives, Michael Slote defends an agent-based theory of right action according to which right acts are those that express virtuous motives like benevolence or care. Critics have claimed that Slote’s view— and agent-based views more generally— cannot account for several basic tenets of commonsense morality. In particular, the critics maintain that agent-based theories: (i) violate the deontic axiom that “ought” implies “can”, (ii) cannot allow for a person’s doing the right thing for the wrong reason, and (iii) do not yield clear verdicts in a number of cases involving “conflicting motives” and “motivational over-determination”. In this paper I develop a new agent-based theory of right action designed to avoid the problems presented for Slote’s view. This view makes morally right action a matter of expressing an optimal balance of virtue over vice and commands agents in each situation to improve their degree of excellence to the greatest extent possible.

Ciurria, Michelle
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice15 (April 2012): 259-269

In A New Form of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics, Daniel Doviak develops a novel agent-based theory of right action that treats the rightness (or deontic status) of an action as a matter of the action’s net intrinsic virtue value (net-IVV)—that is, its balance of virtue over vice. This view is designed to accommodate three basic tenets of commonsense morality: (i) the maxim that “ought” implies “can,” (ii) the idea that a person can do the right thing for the wrong reason, and (iii) the idea that a virtuous person can have “mixed motives.” In this paper, I argue that Doviak’s account makes an important contribution to agent-based virtue ethics, but it needs to be supplemented with a consequentialist account of the efficacy of well-motivated actions—that is, it should be transformed into a mixed (motives-consequences) account, while retaining its net-IVV calculus. This is because I believe that there are right-making properties external to an agent’s psychology which it is important to take into account, especially when an agent’s actions negatively affect other people. To incorporate this intuition, I add to Doviak’s net-IVV calculus a scale for outcomes. The result is a mixed view which accommodates tenets (ii) and (iii) above, but allows for (i) to fail in certain cases. I argue that, rather than being a defect, this allowance is an asset because our intuitions about ought-implies-can break down in cases where an agent is grossly misguided, and our theory should track these intuitions.

Crisp, Roger
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research90 (March 2015): 257-273

In recent decades, the idea has become common that so-called virtue ethics constitutes a third option in ethics in addition to consequentialism and deontology. This paper argues that, if we understand ethical theories as accounts of right and wrong action, this is not so. Virtue ethics turns out to be a form of deontology (that is, non-consequentialism). The paper then moves to consider the Aristotelian distinction between right or virtuous action on the one hand, and acting rightly or virtuously on the other. It is claimed that virtue might play an important role in an explanation of acting virtuously (as it does in Aristotle’s ethics), but that such explanations can be charged with ‘double-counting’ the moral value of the virtues. The paper concludes that, if we focus on the question of the value of virtue, rather than on the notion of right action, there is room for a self-standing and important view which could be described as virtue ethics.

Couenhoven, Jesse
Journal of Religious Ethics38 (September 2010): 521-544

Virtue and deontological ethics are now commonly contrasted as rival approaches to moral inquiry. However, I argue that neither metaethical party should seek complete, solitary domination of the ethical domain. Reductive treatments of the right or the virtuous, as well as projects that abandon the former or latter, are bound to leave us with a sadly diminished map of the moral territories crucial to our lives. Thus, it is better for the two parties to seek a more cordial and equal relationship, one that permits metaethical pluralism, and acknowledges mutual dependence. I do not seek to prescribe how that relationship should look: this essay offers less a positive metaethical position than a prolegomenon to such a position, one that attempts to head off harmful attempts to reduce the territory of the aretaic to that of the deontic, or that of the deontic to the aretaic.

Pettigrove, Glen, and Tanaka, Koji
Australasian Journal of Philosophy92:2 (2014): 269-286

Although theorists disagree about precisely how to characterize the link between anger and moral judgment, that they are linked is routinely taken for granted in contemporary metaethics and philosophy of emotion. One problem with this assumption is that it ignores virtues like patience, which thinkers as different as Cassian, Śāntideva, and Maimonides have argued are characteristic of mature moral agents. The patient neither experience nor plan to experience anger in response to (at least some) wrongs. Nevertheless, we argue, they remain capable of judging such actions to be wrong. This indicates that a different account of the relationship between anger and moral judgment is required. We conclude by proposing one such account, showing how a metaethicist who was more attentive to the normative ethics of anger might set about reconstructing her position.

Pettigrove, Glen and Tanaka, Koji
Australasian Journal of Philosophy92:2 (2014): 269-286

Although theorists disagree about precisely how to characterize the link between anger and moral judgment, that they are linked is routinely taken for granted in contemporary metaethics and philosophy of emotion. One problem with this assumption is that it ignores virtues like patience, which thinkers as different as Cassian, Śāntideva, and Maimonides have argued are characteristic of mature moral agents. The patient neither experience nor plan to experience anger in response to (at least some) wrongs. Nevertheless, we argue, they remain capable of judging such actions to be wrong. This indicates that a different account of the relationship between anger and moral judgment is required. We conclude by proposing one such account, showing how a metaethicist who was more attentive to the normative ethics of anger might set about reconstructing her position.

Stangl, Rebecca
Ethics121 (October 2010): 37-57

In this essay, I defend an account of right action that I shall call “asymmetrical virtue particularism.” An action, on this account, is right just insofar as it is overall virtuous. But the virtuousness of an action in any particular respect, X, is deontically variant; it can fail to be right-making, either because it is deontically irrelevant or because it is wrong-making. Finally, the account is asymmetrical insofar as the viciousness of actions is not deontically variant; if any action is vicious in some respect Y, then Y is always a wrong-making feature of any action whatever that has Y.

Fischer, Jeremy
The Journal of Value Inquiry46, no. 2 (2012): 209-222
Annas, Julia
The Journal of Value Inquiry49 (March 2015): 281-288
Miller, Christian
Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy5 (2010): 1-36

This article addresses the question whether we can know on the basis of folk intuitions that we have character traits. I answer in the negative, arguing that on any of the primary theories of knowledge, our intuitions about traits do not amount to knowledge. For instance, because we would attribute traits to one another regardless of whether we actually possessed such metaphysically robust dispositions, Nozickian sensitivity theory disqualifies our intuitions about traits from being knowledge. Yet we do think we know that we have traits, so I am advancing an error theory, which means that I owe an account of why we fall into error. Why do we feel so comfortable navigating the language of traits if we lack knowledge of them? To answer this question, I refer to a slew of heuristics and biases. Some, like the fundamental attribution error, the false consensus effect, and the power of construal, pertain directly to trait attributions. Others are more general cognitive heuristics and biases whose relevance to trait attributions requires explanation and can be classed under the headings of input heuristics and biases and processing heuristics and biases. Input heuristics and biases include selection bias, availability bias, availability cascade, and anchoring. Processing heuristics and biases include disregard of base rates, disregard of regression to the mean, and confirmation bias.

Gilbert, Margaret P.
The Pluralist1 (2006): 40-52

Two radically different, general accounts of human character traits – the “essentialist” and the “summary” accounts – are given critical consideration. The former account is characterized in terms of Saul Kripke’s conception of metaphysical essence. Both accounts are discussed with reference to Jean-Paul Sartre’s treatment of character traits. The essentialist account cannot withstand considerations relating to personal identity over time. The summary account is also rejected, as is a certain kind of dispositional account. An approach to at least some character traits in terms of persisting aims, beliefs, and so on is recommended.

Enoch, David; and Ehud Guttel
Journal of Moral Philosophy7:3 (2010): 372-386

Some of the recent philosophical literature on moral luck attempts to make headway in the moral-luck debate by employing the resources of empirical psychology, in effect arguing that some of the intuitive judgments relevant to the moral-luck debate are best explained – and so presumably explained away – as the output of well-documented cognitive biases. We argue that such attempts are empirically problematic, and furthermore that even if they were not, it is still not at all clear what philosophical significance they would have.

Adams, Robert Merrihew
The Journal of Value Inquiry49 (March 2015): 289-295
Snow, Nancy E.
The Journal of Value Inquiry49 (March 2015): 297-306
Brown, Campbell
Ethics121 (July 2011): 749-771

To ‘consequentialize’ is to take a putatively nonconsequentialist moral theory and show that it is actually just another form of consequentialism. Some have speculated that every moral theory can be consequentialized. If this were so, then consequentialism would be empty; it would have no substantive content. As I argue here, however, this is not so. Beginning with the core consequentialist commitment to ‘maximizing the good’, I formulate a precise definition of consequentialism and demonstrate that, given this definition, several sorts of moral theory resist consequentialization. My strategy is to decompose consequentialism into three conditions, which I call ‘agent neutrality’, ‘no moral dilemmas’, and ‘dominance’, and then to exhibit some moral theories which violate each of these.

Austin, Michael W.
Philosophia Christi14 (2012): 461-470
Russell, Luke
Philosophical Studies149 (June 2010): 231-250

It is intuitively plausible that not every evildoer is an evil person. In order to make sense of this intuition we need to construct an account of evil personhood in addition to an account of evil action. Some philosophers have offered aggregative accounts of evil personhood, but these do not fit well with common intuitions about the explanatory power of evil personhood, the possibility of moral reform, and the relationship between evil and luck. In contrast, a dispositional account of evil personhood can allow that evil is explanatory, that an evil person can become good, and that luck might prevent evil persons from doing evil or cause non-evil persons to do evil. Yet the dispositional account of evil personhood implies that some evil persons are blameless, which seems to clash with the intuition that evil persons deserve our strongest moral condemnation. Moreover, since it is likely that a large proportion of us are disposed to perform evil actions in some environments, the dispositional account threatens to label a large proportion of people evil. In this paper I consider a range of possible modifications to the dispositional account that might bring it more closely into alignment with our intuitions about moral condemnation and the rarity of evil persons. According to the most plausible of these theories, S is an evil person if S is strongly disposed to perform evil actions when in conditions that favour S’s autonomy.

May, Joshua
Australasian Journal of Philosophy92:1 (2014): 125-141

Recent empirical research seems to show that emotions play a substantial role in moral judgment. Perhaps the most important line of support for this claim focuses on disgust. A number of philosophers and scientists argue that there is adequate evidence showing that disgust significantly influences various moral judgments. And this has been used to support or undermine a range of philosophical theories, such as sentimentalism and deontology. I argue that the existing evidence does not support such arguments. At best it suggests something rather different: that moral judgment can have a minor emotive function, in addition to a substantially descriptive one.

Murphy, James Bernard
Review of Philosophy and Psychology6 (June 2015): 255-273

Social psychologists have performed many well-known experiments demonstrating that experimental subjects will perform in ways that are normatively inconsistent even across very similar situations. Situationist social psychologists and philosophers have often interpreted these findings to imply that most people lack general moral dispositions. These situationists have argued that our moral dispositions are at best narrowly local traits; they often describe our moral characters as fragmented. In this paper, I offer an alternative hypothesis for the same experimental results. I argue that these normative inconsistencies in behavior might well be produced by habit interference: experimental subjects err by over-generalizing dispositions formed in prior situations. I ground this alternative hypothesis in the long tradition of transfer of learning studies, which demonstrated that cognitive inconsistency was often the result of habit interference and, hence, overly generalized dispositions. I shall thus explore the analogy between moral and cognitive inconsistency to show why social psychology might well benefit from adopting the experimental design of the classic transfer of learning studies.

Winter, Michael Jeffrey
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice15 (August 2012): 533-546

A long-standing tenet of virtue theory is that moral virtue and knowledge are connected in some important way. Julia Driver attacks the traditional assumption that virtue requires knowledge. I argue that the examples of virtues of ignorance Driver offers are not compelling and that the idea that knowledge is required for virtue has been taken to be foundational for virtue theory for good reason. I propose that we understand modesty as involving three conditions: 1) having genuine accomplishments, 2) being aware of the value of these accomplishments, and 3) having a disposition to refrain from putting forward one’s accomplishments. When we understand modesty this way, we can properly identify genuine cases of modesty and see how modesty requires knowledge. Something similar can be said about other alleged virtues of ignorance. With the proposal in place, we have no serious reason to think that moral virtue requires ignorance. Additionally, we have good reasons for thinking that acting virtuously requires having good intentions and that a necessary condition of having a virtue is having knowledge. Although some might take these results to be trivial or obviously true, I think the Julia Driver’s challenge should not be dismissed out of hand. Even though there are some reasons for thinking that some situations suggest that knowledge and virtue can be separated from one another, close analysis reveals this impression is only surface deep.

Young, Liane, Alek Chakroff, and Jessica Tom
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology3 (September 2012): 325-334

What is the role of self-concept in motivating moral behavior? On one account, when people are primed to perceive themselves as “do-gooders”, conscious access to this positive self-concept will reinforce good behavior. On an alternative account, when people are reminded that they have done their “good deed for the day”, they will feel licensed to behave worse. In the current study, when participants were asked to recall their own good deeds (positive self-concept), their subsequent charitable donations were nearly twice that of participants who recalled bad deeds, or recent conversation topics, consistent with an account of moral reinforcement. In addition, among participants reporting good deeds, those who did not note whether they were recognized or unrecognized by other people donated significantly more than participants who took note of others’ responses. In sum, when people are primed to see themselves as good people, who do good for goodness’ sake, not to obtain public credit, they may be motivated to do more good.

Vasalou, Sophia
The Journal of Ethics16 (March 2012): 67-87

That only those who have mastered language can be virtuous is something that may strike us as an obvious truism. It would seem to follow naturally from, indeed simply restate, a view that is far more commonly held and expressed by philosophers of the virtues, namely that only those who can reason can be virtuous properly said. My aim in this paper is to draw attention to this truism and argue its importance. In doing so, I will take the starting point for my reflections from a couple of concrete occasions in which the desire to offer a foothold to the language of the virtues encounters an obstacle that might be described as a recalcitrance of language: certain intuitions that seem decidedly linguistic get in the way to suggest that this vocabulary is out of place or out of order. Taking my cue from the discomfort of our linguistic intuitions, what I will be suggesting is that certain difficulties do indeed attend our use of the vocabulary of the virtues, and that there is a particular way of understanding their inevitability, one which is closely connected to the context of moral education. My hope is that reflecting on these difficulties and on the task of moral education with which they are associated can help us illuminate and recover the insight that a mastery of language may be indispensable for a mastery of virtue.

Alfano, Mark
The Philosophical Quarterly62 (April 2012): 223-249

The last few decades have witnessed the birth and growth of both virtue epistemology and the situationist challenge to virtue ethics. It seems only natural that eventually we would see the situationist challenge to virtue epistemology. This article articulates one aspect of that new challenge by spelling out an argument against the responsibilist brand of virtue epistemology. The trouble can be framed as an inconsistent triad: (non-skepticism) many people know quite a bit; (responsibilism) knowledge is true belief acquired and retained through the exercise of intellectual virtue; (epistemic situationism) most people do not possess the intellectual virtues countenanced by responsibilism. Non-skepticism is a Moorean platitude we should aim to preserve at most if not all costs. I muster evidence from cognitive and social psychology to argue for epistemic situationism. If my argument is correct, responsibilism must be revised or rejected, and reliabilists should avoid incorporating responsibilist components into their theories.

Alfano, Mark
Review of Philosophy and Psychology2 (March 2011): 121-136

This article addresses the question whether we can know on the basis of folk intuitions that we have character traits. I answer in the negative, arguing that on any of the primary theories of knowledge, our intuitions about traits do not amount to knowledge. For instance, because we would attribute traits to one another regardless of whether we actually possessed such metaphysically robust dispositions, Nozickian sensitivity theory disqualifies our intuitions about traits from being knowledge. Yet we do think we know that we have traits, so I am advancing an error theory, which means that I owe an account of why we fall into error. Why do we feel so comfortable navigating the language of traits if we lack knowledge of them? To answer this question, I refer to a slew of heuristics and biases. Some, like the fundamental attribution error, the false consensus effect, and the power of construal, pertain directly to trait attributions. Others are more general cognitive heuristics and biases whose relevance to trait attributions requires explanation and can be classed under the headings of input heuristics and biases and processing heuristics and biases. Input heuristics and biases include selection bias, availability bias, availability cascade, and anchoring. Processing heuristics and biases include disregard of base rates, disregard of regression to the mean, and confirmation bias.

Mandelbaum, Eric, and David Ripley
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology3 (September 2012): 351-368

For some reason, participants hold agents more responsible for their actions when a situation is described concretely than when the situation is described abstractly. We present examples of this phenomenon, and survey some attempts to explain it. We divide these attempts into two classes: affective theories and cognitive theories. After criticizing both types of theories we advance our novel hypothesis: that people believe that whenever a norm is violated, someone is responsible for it. This belief, along with the familiar workings of cognitive dissonance theory, is enough to not only explain all of the abstract/concrete paradoxes, but also explains seemingly unrelated effects, like the anthropomorphization of malfunctioning inanimate objects.

Szigeti, Andras
The Journal of Value Inquiry48:2 (June 2014): 217-234
Zaragoza, Kevin
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research84 (May 2012): 604-621

Despite broad agreement that forgiveness involves overcoming resentment, the small philosophical literature on this topic has made little progress in determining which of the many ways of overcoming resentment is forgiveness. In a recent paper, however, Pamela Hieronymi proposed a way forward by requiring that accounts of forgiveness be “articulate” and “uncompromising.” I argue for these requirements, but also claim that Hieronymi’s proposed articulate and uncompromising account must be rejected because it cannot accommodate the fact that only some agents have the standing to forgive. I end by sketching an alternative account which, I claim, explains the phenomenon of standing.

Alfano, Mark
From Personality to Virtue (eds. Alberto Masala and Jonathan Webber)Oxford University Press (forthcoming)

In this paper, I describe some of what I take to be the more interesting features of friendship, then explore the extent to which other virtues can be reconstructed as sharing those features. I use trustworthiness as my example throughout, but I think that other virtues such as generosity & gratitude, pride & respect, and the producer’s & consumer’s sense of humor can also be analyzed with this model. The aim of the paper is not to demonstrate that all moral virtues are exactly like friendship in all important respects, but rather to articulate a fruitful model in which to explore the virtues. Section 2 explores the relational nature of friendship, drawing on Aristotle’s discussion of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics. Section 3 catalogues four motivations for taking seriously the friendship model of virtue. Section 4 applies the friendship model in depth to the virtue of trustworthiness.

Howell, Robert J.
Noûs48:3 (September 2014): 389-415
Miller Dale E.
Utilitas25 (September 2013): 421-432

In Ideal Code, Real World, Brad Hooker proposes an account of the relation between his rule-consequentialism and virtue according to which the virtues (1) have intrinsic value and (2) are identical with the dispositions that are ‘essential parts of accepting the rules’ of the ideal code. While it is not clear whether Hooker actually intends to endorse this account or only intends to moot it for discussion, I argue that for him to adopt it would be a mistake. Not only would this mean that his moral theory was no longer properly a consequentialist view at all, but it would commit him to inconsistent views about how normative theories – in particular theories of morality in the deontic sense and theories of virtue – are justified.

Schauber, Nancy E.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice17:4 (August 2014): 731-745

Can a virtuous person act contrary to the virtue she possesses? Can virtues have “holes”—or blindspots—and nonetheless count as virtues? Gopal Sreenivasan defends a notion of a blindspot that is, in my view, an unstable moral category. I will argue that no trait possessing such a “hole” can qualify as a virtue. My strategy for showing this appeals to the importance of motivation to virtue, a feature of virtue to which Sreenivasan does not adequately attend. Sreenivasan’s account allows performance alone to be a reliable indicator of the possession of virtue. I argue that, at least with respect to a classical, Aristotelian conception of virtue, this assumption is mistaken: a person is said to possess a virtue only when she is properly motivated. In my view, the nature of motivation required for the possession of Aristotelian virtue does not admit of blindspots. I am not primarily interested in details about the situationist critique of virtue theory but rather the implications that blindspots have for our conception of virtue. I argue that because the practical reasoning of the virtuous requires both cognitive and motivational coherence, the motivational structure of the virtuous agent cannot accommodate blindspots. My conclusion is neither a defense of motivational internalism nor of an idealized conception of Aristotelian virtue. My aim is to show that because blindspotted virtue does not cohere well with Aristotle’s conception of virtuous agency, friends of virtue theory must choose one or the other; they cannot have both.

Schauber, Nancy E.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice(Forthcoming)

Can a virtuous person act contrary to the virtue she possesses? Can virtues have “holes”—or blindspots—and nonetheless count as virtues? Gopal Sreenivasan defends a notion of a blindspot that is, in my view, an unstable moral category. I will argue that no trait possessing such a “hole” can qualify as a virtue. My strategy for showing this appeals to the importance of motivation to virtue, a feature of virtue to which Sreenivasan does not adequately attend. Sreenivasan’s account allows performance alone to be a reliable indicator of the possession of virtue. I argue that, at least with respect to a classical, Aristotelian conception of virtue, this assumption is mistaken: a person is said to possess a virtue only when she is properly motivated. In my view, the nature of motivation required for the possession of Aristotelian virtue does not admit of blindspots. I am not primarily interested in details about the situationist critique of virtue theory but rather the implications that blindspots have for our conception of virtue. I argue that because the practical reasoning of the virtuous requires both cognitive and motivational coherence, the motivational structure of the virtuous agent cannot accommodate blindspots. My conclusion is neither a defense of motivational internalism nor of an idealized conception of Aristotelian virtue. My aim is to show that because blindspotted virtue does not cohere well with Aristotle’s conception of virtuous agency, friends of virtue theory must choose one or the other; they cannot have both.

Benbaji, Hagi
Australasian Journal of Philosophy91:3 (2013): 577-599

A recalcitrant emotion is an emotion that we experience despite a judgment that seems to conflict with it. Having been bitten by a dog in her childhood, Jane cannot shake her fear of dogs, including Fido, the cute little puppy that she knows to be in no way dangerous. There is something puzzling about recalcitrant emotions, which appear to defy the putatively robust connection between emotions and judgments. If Jane really believes that Fido cannot harm her, what is she afraid of? This article seeks to show how recalcitrant emotion is possible. I argue that reductive theories that identify emotions with judgments, desires, or some combination thereof, cannot explain the possibility of emotional irrationality without contradiction. I then show that the appeal to sui generis attitudes also fails to solve the puzzle of recalcitrant emotions, and diagnose this failure as stemming from a misleading analogy between emotions and perceptions, and in particular, between recalcitrant emotions and perceptual illusions. The solution can be found in a different analogy: between emotions and actions; more specifically, between recalcitrant emotions and weakness of the will, akrasia. Like akratic actions, recalcitrant emotions entail responding to reasons, but to inferior reasons. Irrational but non-contradictory emotions are possible just as weakness of will is possible.

Sripada, Chandra Sekhar
Nous48:1 (March 2014): 41-74

The exercise of willpower is puzzling because it seems to require that a person both most wants to act on a wayward desire, and most wants to resist this desire, and this seems impossible. There are two accounts that try to resolve this puzzle of synchronic self-control, Jeanette Kennett and Michael Smith's ‘non-actional’ account and Alfred Mele's ‘ancillary action’ account. I criticize these accounts because they set too strong constraints on what kinds of synchronic self-control are possible, and thus what willpower could turn out to be. I then propose a ‘divided mind’ account that helps make sense of particularly strong forms of willpower that cannot be accommodated on the alternative accounts. On the divided mind account, motivational architecture is divided between a deliberative motivational system and an emotional motivational system, and willpower is a proprietary action exclusively available to the deliberative system. I address potential objections to the divided mind account. One objection says that it is not in fact possible for a weaker desire to defeat a stronger one. A second objection says that actions that arise exclusively from parts of a mind cannot be said to belong to the whole agent.

Kornegay, R. Jo
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice14 (February 2011): 51-71

This essay explicates and evaluates the roles that fetal metaphysics and moral status play in Rosalind Hursthouse’s abortion ethics. It is motivated by Hursthouse’s puzzling claim in her widely anthologized paper “Virtue Ethics and Abortion” that fetal moral status and (by implication) its underlying metaphysics are “in a way, fundamentally irrelevant” to her position. The essay clarifies the roles that fetal ontology and moral status do in fact play in her abortion ethics. To this end, it presents and then develops her fetal metaphysics of the potential and actual human being, which she merely adumbrates in her more extensive treatment of abortion ethics in her book Beginning Lives. The essay then evaluates her fetal ontology in light of relevant research on fetal neural and psychological development. It concludes that her implied view that the late-stage fetus is an actual human being is defensible. The essay then turns to the analysis of late-stage abortions in her paper and argues that it is importantly incomplete.

Alfano, Mark
Journal of Philosophical Research38 (2013): 233-260

Virtue ethics has been challenged on empirical grounds by philosophical interpreters of situationist social psychology. Challenges are necessarily challenges to something or other, so it’s only possible to understand the situationist challenge to virtue ethics if we have an antecedent grasp on virtue ethics itself. To this end, I first identify the non-negotiable “hard core” of virtue ethics with the conjunction of nine claims, arguing that virtue ethics does make substantive empirical assumptions about human conduct. Next, I rearticulate the situationist challenge in light of these nine claims. I then turn to a discussion of specifications of several responses typically made by defenders of virtue ethics against the situationist challenge, arguing that most of them either are unsound or give up one of the elements in the hard core. A few, however, survive this criticism, and so I conclude by suggesting ways in which the situationist challenge might be not so much resisted as co-opted. Situational influences can be used to help people simulate virtue, a phenomenon I call factitious virtue.

Simmons, Aaron
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice17:1 (February 2014): 97-111

It is commonly suggested that empathy is a morally important quality to possess and that a failure to properly empathize with others is a kind of moral failure. This suggestion assumes that empathy involves caring for others’ well-being. Skeptics challenge the moral importance of empathy by arguing that empathy is neither necessary nor sufficient to care for others’ well-being. This challenge is misguided. Although some forms of empathy may not be morally important, empathy with another’s basic well-being concerns is both necessary and sufficient to care for another’s well-being, provided that one’s empathy is both cognitive and affective. I further defend the idea that empathy of this form is a moral virtue. In doing so, I address three challenges to empathy’s status as a virtue: (1) that empathy is unnecessary for being ethical, (2) that it is not useful for promoting ethical behavior, and (3) that an empathetic person can lack other traits central to being virtuous, such as being motivated by the moral good and being disposed to do virtuous things whenever appropriate opportunities arise. I argue that these challenges are mistaken.

Decosimo, David
Studies in Christian Ethics25 (November 2012): 418-441

Robert Adams’s Finite and Infinite Goods is one of the most important and innovative contributions to Christian ethics in recent memory. This article identifies two major flaws at the heart of Adams’s theory: his notion of intrinsic value and his claim that ‘excellence’ or finite goodness is constituted by resemblance to God. I first elucidate Adams’s complex, frequently misunderstood claims concerning intrinsic value and Godlikeness. I then contend that Adams’s notion of intrinsic value cannot explain what it could mean for countless finite goods to be intrinsically valuable. Next, I articulate a criticism of his Godlikeness thesis altogether unlike those he has previously addressed: I show that, on Adams’s own account of Godlikeness, a diverse myriad of excellences could not possibly count as resembling God. His theory thus fails to account for a whole world of finite goods. I defend my two criticisms against objections and briefly sketch a more Aristotelian and Christian way forward.

Lumer, Christoph
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice13 (November 2010): 485-496
Berry, Jessica N.
The Journal of Value Inquiry49 (September 2015): 369-386
Pettigrove, Glen
The Journal of Ethics15:3 (September 2011): 191-207

Thomas Hurka, Simon Keller, and Julia Annas have recently argued that virtue ethics is self-effacing. I contend that these arguments are rooted in a mistaken understanding of the role that ideal agency and agent flourishing (should) play in virtue ethics. I then show how a virtue ethical theory can avoid the charge of self-effacement and why it is important that it do so.

Cox, Damian
American Philosophical Quarterly50:4 (October 2013): 387-397

A lot is at stake in character judgment. How we treat others is influenced by what kinds of persons we take them to be. Our rational plans of life depend upon our insights into our own character and the character of those close to us. Given the importance of the way we judge character, the virtues and vices of character judgment deserve much closer attention than they have received in the philosophical literature. Some philosophers have discussed duties of friendship and how they impact upon the beliefs and judgments of friends. However, virtue theorists have had little to say about the specific virtues and vices of character judgment. This is odd because habits of character judgment are themselves very important aspects of character. We may develop good habits of judgment or bad. We may judge character with diligence and respect for evidence or with thoughtless haste. We may judge others fairly or in selfserving ways, with good motives or bad. The neglect of the virtues and vices of character judgment is especially odd because there is a philosophically troubling tension between apparently virtuous ways in which we may judge character. Should we judge others with clear-eyed impartiality, or is there a role for kindness and sympathy in the judgment of others? Both ways seem to constitute the exercise of a virtue, but on occasions, they pull in opposite directions.

Bloomfield, Paul
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research82 (January 2011): 46-64
Sensen, Oliver
European Journal of Philosophy19 (June 2011): 262-280

This article addresses a foundational issue in Kant’s moral philosophy, the question of the relation of the Categorical Imperative to value. There is an important movement in current Kant scholarship that argues that there is a value underlying the Categorical Imperative. However, some scholars have raised doubts as to whether Kant has a conception of value that could ground the Categorical Imperative. In this paper I seek to add to these doubts by arguing, first, that value would have to be of a particular kind in order to be the foundation of Kant’s moral philosophy. Second, I argue that Kant does not have such a conception of value, and that his arguments rule out that value could ground his moral philosophy. I then outline an alternative reading of how Kant uses ‘inner value’. My conclusion will be that Kant does not derive the Categorical Imperative from an underlying value. While some of his passages could also be read as if value were foundational for Kant, a close look at these passages and his arguments point away from this conclusion.

Turri, John
Philosophical Studies167 (February 2014): 557-567

I accomplish two things in this paper. First I expose some important limitations of the contemporary literature on the norms of assertion and in the process illuminate a host of new directions and forms that an account of assertional norms might take. Second I leverage those insights to suggest a new account of the relationship between knowledge and assertion, which arguably outperforms the standard knowledge account.

Hurka, Thomas
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research89:2 (September 2014): 496-503
Bates, Tom
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice(December 2014)

“Moral Character: An Empirical Theory” and “Character and Moral Psychology” represent part of the research output of the Templeton-funded Character Project, which was headed by Christian Miller. In ‘Moral Character’, Miller develops his “mixed trait” account of character. The first two parts consist in conceptual background (chapter 1) and the empirical grounding for his account (chapters 2–6). In part three (chapters 7–8) Miller develops and describes his account, before showing the extent of its application in part four (chapters 9–10). In ‘Character and Moral Psychology”, he gives the reader more details about the metaphysics of his view (chapters 1–3), places it in relation to other accounts of character and personality (chapters 4–6), shows the normative and meta-ethical implications of his account (chapters 7–8), and opens a discussion of what could follow from his account in terms of improving character (chapter 9).

Sinha, G. Alex
Australasian Journal of Philosophy90:2 (2012): 259-274

This paper offers a novel, secular account of the virtue of humility. There are only two such accounts in recent philosophical literature: one defended by Julia Driver, the other by George Schueler. Driver attaches the virtue of humility to people who underestimate their merits, or lack beliefs about their merits altogether. Schueler thinks that humility requires indifference to how we are regarded vis-à-vis our accomplishments. This paper brings out the limitations of those accounts and constructs a new one which is free of them.

The new account derives directly from the under-appreciated approach defended a century ago by Hastings Rashdall, who developed a secular (albeit religiously-inspired) account of humility according to which true humility reflects love for one's neighbour. After indicating the flaws in Rashdall's approach, I develop an account based on his intuitions. Specifically, I argue that humility requires suppressing our egos when they lead us to neglect or disregard other duties. Humility comprises two dimensions: a private dimension, for when we uphold self-regarding duties rather than succumb to the temptations of ego; and a public dimension, for when we display fidelity to other-regarding duties at the expense of the pleasures of ego.

Bommarito, Nicolas
Philosophical Review122:1 (2013): 93-117

The contemporary discussion of modesty has focused on whether or not modest people are accurate about their own good qualities. This essay argues that this way of framing the debate is unhelpful and offers examples to show that neither ignorance nor accuracy about the good qualities related to oneself is necessary for modesty. It then offers an attention-based account, claiming that what is necessary for modesty is to direct one’s attention in certain ways. By analyzing modesty in this way, we can best explain the distinct features of modesty, keep much of what is intuitive in contemporary accounts, and better understand why modesty is a virtue at all.

Pettigrove, Glen, and Mike Meyer
Australasian Journal of Philosophy87.2 (June 2009): 285-299

The paper opens with an account of moral ambition which, it argues, is both a coherent ideal and an admirable trait. It closes with a discussion of some of the ways in which this trait might differ from traditional virtues such as temperance, courage, or benevolence.

Clark-Doane, Justin
Nous(Forthcoming)
Mellema, Gegory F.
The Journal of Ethics14 (June 2010): 173-180

There have traditionally been two schools of thought regarding moral ideals and their relationship with moral duty. First, many have held that moral agents at all times have a duty or obligation to realize or attain moral ideals, or at least they have a duty to strive to realize or attain them. A second school of thought has maintained that attaining or pursuing moral ideals is supererogatory or beyond the call of duty. Recently a third school of thought has been articulated by Robert Audi in his essay “Wrongs Within Rights.” In this paper I express agreement with Audi, and it will be my suggestion that the resources of virtue ethics can profitably be employed to illustrate how his view avoids problems which plague the two traditional schools of thought.

Kriegel, Uriah
Australasian Journal of Philosophy90:3 (2012): 469-486

In a series of publications, Tamar Gendler has argued for a distinction between belief and what she calls ‘alief’. Gendler's argument for the distinction is a serviceability argument: the distinction is indispensable for explaining a whole slew of phenomena, typically involving ‘belief-behaviour mismatch’. After embedding Gendler's distinction in a dual-process model of moral cognition, I argue here that the distinction also suggests a possible (dis)solution of what is perhaps the organizing problem of contemporary moral psychology: the apparent tension between the inherently motivational role of moral judgments and their manifestly objectivistic phenomenology. I argue that moral judgments come in two varieties, moral aliefs and moral beliefs, and it is only the former that are inherently motivating and only the latter that have an objectivistic phenomenology. This serves to both bolster the case for the alief/belief distinction and shed new light on otherwise well-trodden territory in metaethics. I start with an exposition of the moral-psychological problem (§1) and a discussion of Gendler's alief/belief distinction (§2). I then apply the latter to moral judgments in an attempt to dissolve the former (§3). I close with discussion of the upshot for our understanding of moral thought, moral motivation, and moral phenomenology (§4).

Cullison, Andrew
European Journal of Philosophy18 (June 2010): 159-175

In this paper, I defend the view that we can have perceptual moral knowledge. First, I motivate the moral perception view by drawing on some examples involving perceptual knowledge of complex non-moral properties. I argue that we have little reason to think that perception of moral properties couldn’t operate in much the same way that our perception of these complex non-moral properties operates. I then defend the moral perception view from two challenging objections that have yet to be adequately addressed. The first objection is that the moral perception view has implausible commitments concerning the morally blind, people who would claim not to perceive wrongness. The second objection is that the moral perception view is not really compatible with a wide range of the main candidate moral theories. I argue that the moral empiricist has plausible responses to both of these objections. I then address three residual concerns that my defense raises.

Welch, Patrick
The Journal of Moral Education40 (2011): 513-526

This article is intended as an initial investigation into the foundations of moral psychology. I primarily examine a recent work in moral education, Daniel Lapsley’s and Darcia Narvaez’s ‘Character education’, whose authors seem to assume at points that criteria for discerning moral actions and moral traits can be derived apart from ethics or moral philosophy. This assumption, which appears to stem from misconceptions about both the virtues traditionally understood and the non-empirical nature of moral-philosophical theorising, is problematic: (1) it courts moral relativism, which would preclude arguing for the superiority of any model of moral education, (2) deriving or validating a morality through empirical methods involves a self-undermining stance about the nature of empirical justification and (3) empirical criteria used to delineate morality are unavoidably arbitrary. After examining similarly problematic works by David Wong and Lawrence Kohlberg, I conclude that moral psychologists must wrestle with the problem of moral criteria through substantive engagement with moral philosophy.

Beebe, James R.
Noûs44 (December 2010): 691-724
Gerrans, Philip; and Kennett, Jeanette
Mind 119 (July 2010): 585-614

Metaethics has recently been confronted by evidence from cognitive neuroscience that tacit emotional processes play an essential causal role in moral judgement. Most neuroscientists, and some metaethicists, take this evidence to vindicate a version of metaethical sentimentalism. In this paper we argue that the ‘dual process’ model of cognition that frames the discussion within and without philosophy does not do justice to an important constraint on any theory of deliberation and judgement. Namely, decision-making is the exercise of a capacity for agency. Agency, in turn, requires a capacity to conceive of oneself as temporally extended: to inhabit, in both memory and imagination, an autobiographical past and future. To plan, to commit to plans, and to act in accordance with previous plans requires a diachronic self, able to transcend the present moment. While this fact about agency is central to much of moral philosophy (e.g. in discussions of autonomy and moral responsibility) it is opaque to the dual process framework and those meta-ethical accounts which situate themselves within this model of cognition. We show how this is the case and argue for an empirically adequate account of moral judgement which gives sufficient role to memory and imagination as cognitive prerequisites of agency. We reconsider the empirical evidence, provide an alternative, agentive, interpretation of key findings, and evaluate the consequences for metaethics.

Peters, Julia
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice18 (February 2015): 165-175

A large part of the current debate among virtue ethicists focuses on the role played by phronesis, or wise practical reasoning, in virtuous action. The paradigmatic case of an action expressing phronesis is one where an agent explicitly reflects and deliberates on all practical options in a given situation and eventually makes a wise choice. Habitual actions, by contrast, are typically performed automatically, that is, in the absence of preceding deliberation. Thus they would seem to fall outside of the primary focus of the current virtue ethical debate. By contrast, Bill Pollard has recently suggested that all properly virtuous actions must be performed habitually and therefore automatically, i.e. in the absence of (a certain kind of) moral deliberation. In this paper, Pollard’s suggestion is interpreted as the thesis that habitual automaticity is constitutive of virtue or moral excellence. By constructing an argument in favor of it and discussing several objections, the paper ultimately seeks to defend a qualified version of this thesis.

Schroeder, Mark
The Philosophical Review120 (January 2011): 1-41

According to a naive view sometimes apparent in the writings of moral philosophers, ‘ought’ often expresses a relation between agents and actions—the relation that obtains between an agent and an action when that action is what that agent ought to do. It is not part of this naive view that ‘ought’ always expresses this relation—adherents of the naive view are happy to allow that ‘ought’ also has an evaluative sense, on which it means, roughly, that were things ideal, some proposition would be the case. What is important to the naive view is that there is also a deliberative sense of ‘ought’, on which it relates agents to actions. In contrast, logically and linguistically sophisticated philosophers have typically rejected this naive view. According to them, there is no argument-place for an agent in any relation expressed by ‘ought’, nor is there any argument-place for an action. According to this view, if Jim ought to jam, that is not because there is a special distinctive deliberative ought relation between Jim and jamming; rather, it is because a certain proposition ought to be the case: namely, that Jim jams. This essay defends the naive view, by first arguing that there are two distinct normative senses of ‘ought’, which actually exhibit different syntactic behavior, and then going on to argue that the deliberative sense of ‘ought’ relates agents to actions, rather than to propositions. It closes by drawing lessons for a range of issues in moral theory.

Leibowitz, Uri D.
Journal of Moral Philosophy9:3 (2012): 1-27

In this essay I offer a new particularist reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. I argue that the interpretation I present not only helps us to resolve some puzzles about Aristotle’s goals and methods, but it also gives rise to a novel account of morality – an account that is both interesting and plausible in its own right. The goal of this paper is, in part, exegetical – that is, to figure out how to best understand the text of the Nicomachean Ethics. But this paper also aims to contribute to the current exciting and controversial debate over particularism. By taking the first steps towards a comprehensive particularist reading of Aristotle’s Ethics I hope to demonstrate that some of the mistrust of particularism is misplaced and that what is, perhaps, the most influential moral theory in the history of philosophy is, arguably, a particularist moral theory.

Eggleston, Ben
Mind119 (July 2010): 549-584

Practical equilibrium, like reflective equilibrium, is a way of deciding what to think about morality. It shares with reflective equilibrium the general thesis that there is some way in which a moral theory must, in order to be acceptable, answer to one’s moral intuitions, but it differs from reflective equilibrium in its specification of exactly how a moral theory must answer to one’s intuitions. Whereas reflective equilibrium focuses on a theory’s consistency with those intuitions, practical equilibrium also gives weight to a theory’s approval of one’s having those intuitions.

Piller, Christian
Philosophical Studies172 (January 2015): 73-91

One of the guiding ideas of virtue epistemology is to look at epistemological issue through the lens of practical philosophy. The Gettier Problem is a case in point. Virtue epistemologists, like Sosa and Greco, see the shortcoming in a Gettier scenario as a shortcoming from which performances in general can suffer. In this paper I raise some doubts about the success of this project. Looking more closely at practical philosophy, will, I argue, show that virtue epistemology misconceives the significance of Gettier structures in the practical domain.

Alfano, Mark
Current Controversies in Virtue TheoryRoutledge (forthcoming)

In his contribution, Mark Alfano lays out a new (to virtue theory) naturalistic way of determining what the virtues are, what it would take for them to be realized, and what it would take for them to be at least possible. This method is derived in large part from David Lewis’s development of Frank Ramsey’s method of implicit definition. The basic idea is to define a set of terms not individually but in tandem. This is accomplished by assembling all and only the common sense platitudes that involve them (e.g., typically, people want to be virtuous), conjoining those platitudes, and replacing the terms in question by existentially quantified variables. If the resulting sentence is satisfied, then whatever satisfies are the virtues. If it isn’t satisfied, there are a couple of options. First, one could just admit defeat by saying that people can’t be virtuous. More plausibly, one could weaken the conjunction by dropping a small number of the platitudes from it (and potentially adding some others). Alfano suggests that the most attractive way to do this is by dropping the platitudes that deal with cross-situational consistency and replacing them with platitudes that involve social construction: basically, people are virtuous (when they are) at least in part because other people signal their expectations of virtuous conduct, which induces virtuous conduct, which in turn induces further signals of expected virtuous conduct, and so on.

Verbeek, Bruno
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice13 (November 2010): 541-559

In this essay, I review some results that suggest that rational choice theory has interesting things to say about the virtues. In particular, I argue that rational choice theory can show, first, the role of certain virtues in a game-theoretic analysis of norms. Secondly, that it is useful in the characterization of these virtues. Finally, I discuss how rational choice theory can be brought to bear upon the justification of these virtues by showing how they contribute to a flourishing life. I do this by discussing one particular example of a norm – the requirement that agents to honor their promises of mutual assistance – and one particular virtue, trustworthiness.

Jordan, Andrew
The Philosophical Quarterly63 (April 2013): 248-268

Some particularists have argued that even virtue properties can exhibit a form of holism or context variance, e.g. sometimes an act is worse for being kind, say. But, on a common conception of virtuous acts, one derived from Aristotle, claims of virtue holism will be shown to be false. I argue, perhaps surprisingly, that on this conception the virtuousness of an act is not a reason to do it, and hence this conception of virtuous acts presents no challenge to particularist claims about the context variance of reasons. Still, I argue that the virtues nevertheless have important implications for our understanding of the particularism debate. Specifically, we can accept the particularist claim that reasons do not need to be principled in order to have the normative status that they do have, while still maintaining that sound moral thought and judgement has a principled structure understood in terms of the virtues.

Brickhouse, Thomas C., and Nicholas D. Smith
The Journal of Ethics(September 2012): 325-338

In our reply to Rowe, we explain why most of what he criticizes is actually the product of his misunderstanding our argument. We begin by showing that nearly all of his Part 1 misconceives our project by defending a position we never attacked. We then question why Rowe thinks the distinction we make between motivational and virtue intellectualism is unimportant before developing a defense of the consistency of our views about different desires. Next we turn to Rowe’s criticisms of our account of the prudential paradox and show these criticisms to rest on a misunderstanding. We close with some remarks about the implausibility and textual problems Rowe faces in denying that Socrates recognized a role for painful punishments.

Levy, Neil
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (January 2011): 134-155
King, Nathan
The Philosophical Quarterly(forthcoming)

Some epistemologists—virtue responsibilists—model the intellectual virtues on Aristotelian moral virtues. According to responsibilists, intellectual virtues are stable, excellent dispositions of cognitive character like intellectual courage, open-mindedness, curiosity and creativity. Such virtues figure prominently in responsibilist accounts of knowledge, epistemic justification and proper inquiry. In a recent paper, Mark Alfano argues that because human subjects rarely possess responsibilist virtues, responsibilism skirts skepticism and empirical inadequacy. The present paper defends responsibilism against these charges.

Gottlieb, Paula
Philosophical Review12 (April 2015): 258-260
Upton, Candace L.
Ethics124:3 (April 2014): 598-602
Maibom, Heidi L.
Ethics124:2 (January 2014): 384-388
Radzik, Linda
Mind122 (2013): 1164-1167
Irwin, Terence
Ethics123 (April 2013): 549- 556
Baril, Anne
Mind122 (2013): 241-245
Mahon, James Edwin
Journal of Moral Philosophy11:2 (2014): 245-248
Mulhall, Stephen
The Philosophical Quarterly65 (April 2015): 295-298
Cokelet, Bradford
Notre Dame Philosophical ReviewsFebruary 2014
Levy, Neil
Ethics124:3 (April 2014): 641-645
Way, Jonathan
The Philosophical Quarterly63 (July 2013): 610-612
Robson, Gregory J.
Ethics125 (July 2015): 1151-1153
Lorenz, Hendrik
Philosophical Review122:1 (2013): 119-122
Sanderse, Wouter
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice18 (August 2015): 881-882
Sauvé Meyer, Susan
Ethics123 (April 2013): 572-577
Curzer, Howard J.
The Philosophical Quarterly65 (January 2015): 108-113
Sommers, Tamler
The Philosophical Quarterly63 (January 2013): 172-174
Connor, Thomas D.
Philosophical Studies168:3 (April 2014): 783-796

Self-control has been described as the ability to master motivation that is contrary to one’s better judgement; that is, an ability that prevents such motivation from resulting in behaviour that is contrary to one’s overall better judgement (Mele, Irrationality: An essay on Akrasia, self-deception and self-control, p. 54, 1987). Recent discussions in philosophy have centred on the question of whether synchronic self-control, in which one exercises self-control whilst one is currently experiencing opposing motivation, is actional or non-actional. The actional theorist maintains that such exercises are actions, whilst the non-actional theorist claims that synchronic self-control consists in the having of unmotivated thoughts which occur at times when agents experience recalcitrant motivations and which serve to attenuate the strength of those motivations. In this paper I discuss a class of cases which has been largely ignored in these discussions, cases which I argue are common synchronic self-control problems, but in which a lack of motivation is the characteristic symptom. I argue that such cases present problems for actional accounts and add some support to the non-actional approach.

O’Hagan, Emer
Ratio25 (September 2012): 291-306

Most commonplace moral failure is not conditioned by evil intentions or the conscious desire to harm or humiliate others. It is more banal and ubiquitous – a form of moral stupidity that gives rise to rationalization, self-deception, failures of due moral consideration, and the evasion of responsibility. A kind of crude, perception-distorting self-absorption, moral stupidity is the cause of many moral missteps; moral development demands the development of self-knowledge as a way out of moral stupidity. Only once aware of the presence or absence of particular desires and beliefs can an agent have authority over them or exercise responsibility for their absence. But what is the connection between self-knowledge and moral development? I argue that accounts (such as Kant's and Richard Moran's) which construe instances of self-knowledge as like the verdicts of a judge cannot explain its potential role in moral development, and claim that it must be conceived of in a way that makes possible a process of self-refinement and self-regulation. Making use of Buddhist moral psychology, I argue that when self-knowledge plays a role in moral development, it includes a quality of attention to one's experience best modeled as the work of the craftsperson, not as judge.

McElwee, Brian
Ratio23 (September 2010): 308-321

Some philosophers, such as Roger Crisp and Alastair Norcross, have recently argued that the traditional moral categories of wrongness, permissibility and obligation should be avoided when doing ethical theory. I argue that even if morality does not itself provide reasons for action, the moral categories nevertheless have a central role to play in ethical theory: they allow us to make crucial judgements about how to feel about, and react to, agents who behave in anti-social ways, and they help motivate us to act altruistically.

Mower, Deborah S.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice16 (February 2013): 113-137

Situationist research in social psychology focuses on the situational factors that influence behavior. Doris and Harman argue that this research has powerful implications for ethics, and virtue ethics in particular. First, they claim that situationist research presents an empirical challenge to the moral psychology presumed within virtue ethics. Second, they argue that situationist research supports a theoretical challenge to virtue ethics as a foundation for ethical behavior and moral development. I offer a response from moral psychology using an interpretation of Xunzi—a Confucian virtue ethicist from the Classical period. This Confucian account serves as a foil to the situationist critique in that it uncovers many problematic ontological and normative assumptions at work in this debate regarding the prediction and explanation of behavior, psychological posits, moral development, and moral education. Xunzi’s account of virtue ethics not only responds to the situationist empirical challenge by uncovering problematic assumptions about moral psychology, but also demonstrates that it is not a separate empirical hypothesis. Further, Xunzi’s virtue ethic responds to the theoretical challenge by offering a new account of moral development and a ground for ethical norms that fully attends to situational features while upholding robust character traits.

Kristjansson, Kristjan
European Journal of Philosophy20 (June 2012): 52-72

The concept of a situation underlying the debate between moral situationists and dispositionists conceals various underexplored complexities. Some of those issues have been engaged recently in the so-called psychology of situations, but they have been slow to receive attention in mainstream philosophy. I invoke various distinctions among situations, and show how situationists have selectively chosen certain types of situations that, for conceptual reasons, skew the argument in their favour. I introduce the concept of a ‘virtue-calibrated situation’, and argue that if the person–situation debate is to move forward in philosophy as it has in psychology, it must focus on such situations. I bring to bear evidence from analytic and continental philosophy, as well as from social and personality psychology.

Kamtekar, Rachana
Ethics114 (April 2004): 458-491
Alfano, Mark and Abrol Fairweather
Oxford Bibliographies in Philosophy2013

Virtues are dispositions to see, think, desire, deliberate, or act well, with different philosophers emphasizing different permutations of these activities. Virtue has been an object of philosophical concern for thousands of years whereas situationism—the psychological theory according to which a great deal of human perception, thought, motivation, deliberation, and behavior are explained not by character or personality dispositions but by seemingly trivial and normatively irrelevant situational influences—was a development of the 20th century. Some philosophers, especially John Doris and Gilbert Harman but also Mark Alfano and Peter Vranas, have argued that there is a tension between these two independently attractive positions. Normative ethics seems incomplete or even indefensible if it refers only to the rightness or wrongness of actions and the goodness or badness of states; we care not only about these punctate phenomena but also about laudable, longitudinal dispositions like honesty, courage, compassion, open-mindedness, and curiosity. However, according to these philosophers, decades-worth of psychological research provides robust support for situationism. Given the plausible assumption that a credible moral ideal is one that most people can aspire to and perhaps even attain, virtue theory and situationism appear to be on a collision course. The dispute between virtue ethicists and situationists unfolded over the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. It continues today: Some disputants have attempted to find a middle way, and the empirical adequacy of virtue epistemology has also been called into question.

Rodgers, Travis J.; and Warmke, Brandon
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice18 (February 2015): 9-26

Most discussions of John Doris’s situationism center on what can be called descriptive situationism, the claim that our folk usage of global personality and character traits in describing and predicting human behavior is empirically unsupported. Philosophers have not yet paid much attention to another central claim of situationism, which says that given that local traits are empirically supported, we can more successfully act in line with our moral values if, in our deliberation about what to do, we focus on our situation instead of on our moral character. Call this prescriptive situationism. In this paper, we will point toward a previously unrecognized tension between these two situationist theses and explore some ways for the situationist to address it.

Lott, Micah
The Journal of Value Inquiry(forthcoming)
Rowe, Christopher
The Journal of Ethics16 (September 2012): 305-324

Section 1 of this essay distinguishes between four interpretations of Socratic intellectualism, which are, very roughly: (1) a version in which on any given occasion desire, and then action, is determined by what we think will turn out best for us, that being what we all, always, really desire; (2) a version in which on any given occasion action is determined by what we think will best satisfy our permanent desire for what is really best for us; (3) a version formed by the assimilation of (2) to (1), labelled the ‘standard’ version’ by Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith, and treated by them as a single alternative to their own interpretation; and (4) Brickhouse and Smith’s own version. Section 2 considers, in particular, Brickhouse and Smith’s handling of the ‘appetites and passions’, which is the most distinctive feature of interpretation (4). Section 3 discusses Brickhouse and Smith’s defence of ‘Socratic studies’ in its historical context, and assesses the contribution made by their distinctive interpretation of ‘the philosophy of Socrates’. One question raised in this section, and one that is clearly fundamental to the existence of ‘Socratic studies’, is how different Brickhouse and Smith’s Socrates turns out to be from Plato himself, i.e., the Plato of the post-‘Socratic’ dialogues; to which the answer offered is that on Brickhouse and Smith’s interpretation Socratic moral psychology becomes rather less distinguishable from its ‘Platonic’ counterpart—as that is currently understood—than it is on the interpretation(s) they oppose.

Alfano, Mark
Naturalizing Virtue (eds. Owen Flanagan & Abrol Fairweather)Cambridge University Press (forthcoming)
Reed, Philip A.
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly93 (December 2012): 595-614

In this article I argue that vanity, the desire for and delight in the favorable opinion of others, plays a fundamental role in Hume's account of moral motivation. Hume says that vanity and virtue are inseparable, though he does not explicitly say how or why this should be. I argue that Hume's account of sympathy can explain this alliance. In resting moral sentiment on sympathy, Hume gives a fundamental role to vanity as it becomes either a mediating motive to virtue or else strengthens the otherwise weak motive of moral sentiment.

Cullity, Garrett
Ethics124 (October 2013): 8-34

Can one fact deprive another of the status of a reason for action—a status the second fact would have had, but for the presence of the first? Claims of this kind are often made, but they face substantial obstacles. This article sets out those obstacles but then argues that there are at least three different ways in which this does happen.

Alfano, Mark
Philosophy of the Social MindRoutledge (forthcoming)

This paper brings together two erstwhile distinct strands of philosophical inquiry: the extended mind hypothesis and the situationist challenge to virtue theory. According to proponents of the extended mind hypothesis, the vehicles of at least some mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions) are not located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent whose states they are. When external props, tools, and other systems are suitably integrated into the functional apparatus of the agent, they are partial bearers of her cognitions, motivations, memories, and so on. According to proponents of the situationist challenge to virtue theory, dispositions located solely within the confines of the nervous system (central or peripheral) or even the skin of the agent to whom they are attributed typically do not meet the normative standards associated with either virtue or vice (moral, epistemic, or otherwise) because they are too susceptible to moderating external variables, such as mood modulators, ambient sensibilia, and social expectation signaling. We here draw on both of these literatures to formulate two novel views – the embedded and extended character hypotheses – according to which the vehicles of not just mental states but longer-lasting, wider-ranging, and normatively-evaluable agentic dispositions are sometimes located partially beyond the confines of the agent’s skin.

Toner, Christopher
The Journal of Ethics18:3 (September 2014): 207-227

The classical doctrine that the moral virtues are unified is widely rejected. Some argue that the virtues are disunified, or even mutually incompatible. And though others have argued that the virtues form some sort of unity, these recent defenses of unity are always qualified, advocating only a partial unity: the unity of the virtues is limited to certain practical domains, or weak in that one virtue implies only moral decency in the fields of other virtues. I argue that something like the classical doctrine—a full unity of the virtues thesis—remains defensible. After reviewing the arguments of partial unity theorists for the claim that the virtues form at least some sort of unity, I examine their main arguments for thinking that this unity is only partial (limited or weak). I then show that these arguments fail, and address some further criticisms (such as the argument that full unity implausibly requires that a person must attain the virtues “all at once”). I do not seek here to prove the truth of the full unity thesis (in fact I suggest a modification of it), but only to refute important extant criticisms of it, and thus to show that it remains a plausible view.

Schroeder, Nicholas
The Journal of Ethics19 (March 2015): 85-104

The harmony thesis claims that a virtuous agent will not experience inner conflict or pain when acting. The continent agent, on the other hand, is conflicted or pained when acting virtuously, making him inferior to the virtuous agent. But following Karen Stohr’s counterexample, we can imagine a case like a company owner who needs to fire some of her employees to save her company, where acting with conflict or pain is not only appropriate, but necessary in the situation. This creates a problem for virtue ethicists because the virtue/continence distinction cannot easily be drawn in the case. One solution offered by Stohr is to claim that a virtuous agent will respond with an intensity of feeling corresponding to her correct judgment, whereas a continent agent will miss the mark: he will feel too much or too little pain in response to his correct judgment of value. This demarcation, I argue, is too strict because it entails something like a mean resembling a moral virtue or vice regarding pain, being inconsistent with our ordinary understanding of continence. In dealing with the difficulty, I argue that Aristotle’s (largely neglected) virtue of endurance is better suited to account for the problem case. The following move explains why the case of the company owner is problematic: the company owner was missing a virtue on which we did not have the conceptual resources to elaborate. This points to a deeper problem in virtue ethics (there being an incomplete account of the virtues) that needs to be addressed.

Guevara, Daniel
Australasian Journal of Philosophy89 (2011): 149-167

Among the hardest cases in the ethics of killing are those in which one innocent person poses a lethal threat to another. I argue in favour of the intuition that lethal self-defence is permissible in these cases, despite the difficulties that some philosophers(e.g., Otsuka and McMahan) have raised about it. Philosophers writing in this area—including those sympathetic to the intuition (e.g. Thomson and Kamm)—have downplayed or ignored an essential and authoritative role for intuition per se (as against discursive general principles): one based in moral sensibility and imagination rather than discursive argument or conceptual analysis. I am concerned to call attention to and rehabilitate this role for intuition.

Besser-Jones, Lorraine
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice15 (April 2012): 203-220

Empirical research paints a dismal portrayal of the role of reason in morality. It suggests that reason plays no substantive role in how we make moral judgments or are motivated to act on them. This paper explores how it is that an empirically oriented philosopher, committed to methodological naturalism, ought to respond to the skeptical challenge presented by this research. While many think taking this challenge seriously requires revising, sometimes dramatically, how we think about moral agency, this paper will defend the opposite reaction. Contrary to what recent discussions lead us to expect, practical reason is not simply a philosophical fiction lacking empirical roots. Empirical research does not exclude the possibility that practical reason can play a substantive role; rather, there is evidence that it can help us both to determine our first personal moral judgments and to motivate us to act on them.

Sytsma, Justin, and Edouard Machery
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology3 (September 2012): 303-324

There are two primary traditions in philosophical theorizing about moral standing—one emphasizing Experience (the capacity to feel pain and pleasure) and one emphasizing Agency (complexity of cognition and lifestyle). In this article we offer an explanation for this divide: Lay judgments about moral standing depend importantly on two independent cues (Experience and Agency), and the two philosophical traditions reflect this aspect of folk moral cognition. In support of this two-source hypothesis, we present the results of a series of new experiments providing evidence for our account of lay judgments about moral standing, and argue that these results lend plausibility to the proposed causal link between folk moral cognition and the philosophical traditions.

Kadlac, Adam
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice18 (April 2015): 337-354

I argue that hope is a virtue insofar as it (1) leads to a more realistic view of the future than dispositions like optimism and pessimism, (2) promotes courage, and (3) encourages an important kind of solidarity with others. In light of this proposal, I consider the relationship between hope and our beliefs about what is good as well as the conditions under which hope may fail to be a virtue.

Feltz, Adam, and Edward T. Cokely
The Review of Philosophy and Psychology3 (September 2012): 335-350

It is commonly claimed that fully virtuous individuals cannot be ignorant and that everyday intuitions support this fact. Others maintain that there are virtues of ignorance and most people recognize them. Both views cannot be correct. We report evidence from three experiments suggesting that ignorance does not rule out folk attributions of virtue. Additionally, results show that many of these judgments can be predicted by one’s emotional stability—a heritable personality trait. We argue that these results are philosophically important for the study of virtue and we discuss some of the ways individual differences may inform and facilitate current debates in ethics. We close with a cautionary argument detailing the risks of discounting some intuitions simply because they are associated with seemingly less desirable personality traits.

Silcox, Mark
The Journal of Value Inquiry44:4 (2010): 499-508
Cuneo, Terrence
Religious Studies(forthcoming)

Philosophers have paid almost no attention to the baptismal rite. This is puzzling not only because the rite is central to the Christian life but also because the rite itself is very puzzling, making audacious claims about what its performance accomplishes. According to one of these audacious claims, by the performance of the rite the one baptized is transformed, enjoying states such as purification, sanctification, regeneration, and illumination – what I call the regenerate states. But how could this be so? And isn't there good empirical evidence that the imposition of the regenerate states on the one baptized is not accomplished in the vast majority of cases? In this article, I consider an ancient and audacious version of the baptismal rite, namely, that used by Eastern Orthodox Christians. I propose a model for understanding this rite – what I call the process-interpretation – which I believe comes close to being satisfactory, since it implies that the imposition of the regenerate states is not nearly as perplexing as it might seem at first glance.

Simpson, Thomas W.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice16 (June 2013): pp. 543-557

Why are people trustworthy? I argue for two theses. First, we cannot explain many socially important forms of trustworthiness solely in terms of the instrumentally rational seeking of one’s interests, in response to external sanctions or rewards. A richer psychology is required. So, second, possession of moral character is a plausible explanation of some socially important instances when people are trustworthy. I defend this conclusion against the influential account of trust as ‘encapsulated interest’, given by Russell Hardin, on which most trustworthiness is explained by the interest of continuing relationship.

Simpson, Thomas W.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice16 (June 2013): 543-557

Why are people trustworthy? I argue for two theses. First, we cannot explain many socially important forms of trustworthiness solely in terms of the instrumentally rational seeking of one’s interests, in response to external sanctions or rewards. A richer psychology is required. So, second, possession of moral character is a plausible explanation of some socially important instances when people are trustworthy. I defend this conclusion against the influential account of trust as ‘encapsulated interest’, given by Russell Hardin, on which most trustworthiness is explained by the interest of continuing relationship.

Cokelet, Bradford
Ethics122 (July 2012): 773-780

In “Virtue Ethics and Deontic Constraints,” Mark LeBar claims to have discovered a two-level eudaimonist position that coheres with the claim that moral obligations are “real” and have “nonderivative normative authority.” In this article, I raise worries about how “real” second-personal reasons are on LeBar’s account, and then argue that second-personal reasons ramify up from the first to the second level in a way that LeBar denies. My argument is meant to encourage philosophers in the Aristotelian tradition to question the existence of second-personal reasons of the sort Darwall elucidates.

Mcpherson, Tristram
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly93 (December 2012): 523-549

This article argues that the best way to pursue systematic normative ethical theorizing involves metaethical enquiry. My argument builds upon two central claims. First, I argue that plausible metaethical accounts can have implications that can help to resolve the methodological controversies facing normative ethics. Second, I argue that metaethical research is at least roughly as well supported as normative ethical research. I conclude by examining the implications of my thesis. Inter alia, it shows that the common practice of engaging in systematic normative theorizing uninformed by metaethical commitments offers a significant and troubling hostage to metaethical fortune.

Lepock, Christopher
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research83 (July 2011): 106-128

The intellectual virtues include two seemingly quite different types of traits: reliable faculties on the one hand and inquiry-regulating traits of intellectual character like conscientiousness and openmindedness on the other. Extant virtue theories do not appear to have provided a single account that adequately covers both types of virtue. In this paper, I examine the different ways in which a trait or disposition can contribute to our cognitive goal of acquiring significant true beliefs. I propose that the two types of virtues can be understood as contributing in different ways to our cognitive goal, and develop a general framework for understanding their value.

Turri, John
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research(forthcoming)

There is a virtual consensus in contemporary epistemology that knowledge must be reliably produced. Everyone, it seems, is a reliabilist about knowledge in that sense. I present and defend two arguments that unreliable knowledge is possible. My first argument proceeds from an observation about the nature of achievements, namely, that achievements can proceed from unreliable abilities. My second argument proceeds from an observation about the epistemic efficacy of explanatory inference, namely, that inference to the best explanation seems to produce knowledge, even if it isn't reliable. I also propose a successor to standard versions of reliabilism, which I call ‘ecumenical reliabilism’. Ecumenical reliabilism is consistent with unreliably produced knowledge and helps explain why unreliably produced knowledge is possible.

Olin, Lauren, and Doris, John M.
Philosophical Studies168:3 (April 2014): 665-692

While there is now considerable anxiety about whether the psychological theory presupposed by virtue ethics is empirically sustainable, analogous issues have received little attention in the virtue epistemology literature. This paper argues that virtue epistemology encounters challenges reminiscent of those recently encountered by virtue ethics: just as seemingly trivial variation in context provokes unsettling variation in patterns of moral behavior, trivial variation in context elicits unsettling variation in patterns of cognitive functioning. Insofar as reliability is a condition on epistemic virtue, we have reason to doubt that human beings possess the cognitive materials required for epistemic virtue, and thereby reason to think that virtue epistemology is threatened by skepticism. We conclude that while virtue epistemology has resources for addressing this challenge, exploiting these resources forces tradeoffs between empirical and normative adequacy.

Clarke, Bridget
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice13 (June 2010): 273-91

One of the most prominent strands in contemporary work on the virtues consists in the attempt to develop a distinctive—and compelling—account of practical reason on the basis of Aristotle’s ethics. In response to this project, several eminent critics have argued that the Aristotelian account encourages a dismissive attitude toward moral disagreement. Given the importance of developing a mature response to disagreement, the criticism is devastating if true. I examine this line of criticism closely, first elucidating the features of the Aristotelian account that motivate it, and then identifying two further features of the account that the criticism overlooks. These further features show the criticism to be entirely unwarranted. Once these features are acknowledged, a more promising line of criticism suggests itself—namely, that the Aristotelian account does too little to help us to resolve disputes—but that line of objection will have to be carried out on quite different grounds.

Merritt, Maria
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 3 (December 2000): 365-383

In this paper I examine and reply to a deflationary challenge brought against virtue ethics. The challenge comes from critics who are impressed by recent psychological evidence suggesting that much of what we take to be virtuous conduct is in fact elicited by narrowly specific social settings, as opposed to being the manifestation of robust individual character. In answer to the challenge, I suggest a conception of virtue that openly acknowledges the likelihood of its deep, ongoing dependence upon particular social relationships and settings. I argue that holding this conception will indeed cause problems for some important strands of thought in virtue ethics, most notably in the tradition of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. But an approach to virtue ethics modeled on David Hume’s treatment of virtue and character in A Treatise of Human Nature promises to escape these problems.

Svensson, Frans
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice13 (June 2010): 255-271

Conceived of as a contender to other theories in substantive ethics, virtue ethics is often associated with, in essence, the following account or criterion of right action: VR: An action A is right for S in circumstances C if and only if a fully virtuous agent would characteristically do A in C. There are serious objections to VR, which take the form of counter-examples. They present us with different scenarios in which less than fully virtuous persons would be acting rightly in doing what no fully virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances. In this paper, various proposals for how to revise VR in order to avoid these counter-examples are considered. I will argue that in so far as the revised accounts really do manage to steer clear of the counter-examples to VR, something which it turns out is not quite true for all of them, they instead fall prey to other damaging objections. I end by discussing the future of virtue ethics, given what has come to light in the previous sections of the paper. In particular, I sketch the outlines of a virtue ethical account of rightness that is structurally different from VR. This account also faces important problems. Still, I suggest that further scrutiny is required before we are in a position to make a definitive decision about its fate.

Stone, Jim
Philosophical Studies172 (February 2015): 469-475

This paper argues that reliabilist virtue epistemology is mistaken. Descartes supposes a supremely powerful deceiver is determined to trick him into believing falsehoods. Beliefs Descartes cannot rationally doubt, even allowing the demon’s best efforts, count as indubitable knowledge. I give an instance of indubitable knowledge and argue that it is not attributable to an epistemic competence. Since not all knowledge is virtuous, knowledge cannot be identified with virtuous true belief.

Stichter, Matt
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice14 (February 2011): 73-86

According to Rosalind Hursthouse’s virtue based account of right action, an act is right if it is what a fully virtuous person would do in that situation. Robert Johnson has criticized the account on the grounds that the actions a non-virtuous person should take are often uncharacteristic of the virtuous person, and thus Hursthouse’s account of right action is too narrow. The non-virtuous need to take steps to improve themselves morally, and the fully virtuous person need not take these steps. So Johnson argues that any virtue based account of right action will have to find a way to ground a moral obligation to improve oneself. This paper argues that there is an account of virtue that can offer a partial solution to Johnson’s challenge, an account where virtue is a type of practical skill and in which the virtuous person is seen as having expertise. The paper references the account of skill acquisition developed by Hubert and Stuart Dreyfus. Their research demonstrates that novices in a skill have to employ different strategies to act well than the strategies used by the experts, and so the ‘virtue as skill’ thesis provides support for Johnson’s claim that the actions of the non-virtuous will differ from the virtuous. On the other hand, their research suggests that there is no separating the commitment to improve yourself from the possession of expertise, and so the ‘virtue as skill’ thesis has the resources for grounding the obligation to improve oneself in an account of virtue.

Mele, Alfred
Philosophical Studies150 (September 2010): 391-404

Richard Holton has developed a view of the nature of weak-willed actions, and I have done the same for akratic actions. How well does this view of mine fare in the sphere of weakness of will? Considerably better than Holton’s view. That is a thesis of this article. The article’s aim is to clarify the nature of weak-willed actions.

Alfano, Mark
Advances in Moral Psychology (eds. Hagop Sarkissian and Jennifer Wright)Continuum (forthcoming)

It’s natural to assume that the bearers of virtues are individual agents, which would make virtues monadic dispositional properties. I argue instead that the most attractive theory of virtue treats a virtue as a triadic relation among the agent, the social milieu, and the asocial environment. A given person may or may not be disposed to behave in virtuous ways depending on how her social milieu speaks to and of her, what they expect of her, and how they monitor her. Likewise, asocial environmental factors such as mood elevators, mood depressors, ambient sounds, and ambient smells mediate morally important behavioral dispositions. Many commentators have responded to such intrusions from outside the agent by arguing for the rarity of virtue understood as a monadic property. In contrast, I claim that we need to rethink the very nature of virtue, which would entail that cultivating virtue can be accomplished not only by habituation and other such interventions on the individual agent but also by selecting, modifying, and reinterpreting the social and asocial aspects of the environment.

Baker, Jennifer
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice16 (February 2013): 85-98

In this paper I argue that excising a final end from accounts of virtue does them more harm than good. I attempt to establish that the justification of contemporary virtue ethics suffers if moved this one step too far from the resources in traditional accounts. This is because virtue, as we tend to describe it, rests on an account of practical rationality wherein the role of the final end is integral. I highlight the puzzles that are generated by the ellipsis that is “the role of a final end” in contemporary theories of virtue. The authors of these theories devise ad hoc solutions for these puzzles, puzzles that do not exist for traditional final end-based accounts. Recent critics of virtue ethics have certainly not been satisfied the explanations being offer in lieu of references to a final end. As a remedy, I recommend that the role of a final end be reintroduced in contemporary virtue ethics. I hope to explain that there is nothing to be frightened of and much to be gained.

Chappell, Timothy
Journal of Moral Philosophy11:6 (2014): 704-726

I argue that one central resource for ethical thinking, seriously under-explored in contemporary anglophone philosophy, is moral phenomenology, the exploration of the texture and quality (the “what-it’s-like-ness”) of moral experience. Perhaps a barrier that has prevented people from using this resource is that it’s hard to talk about experience. But such knowledge can be communicated, e.g. by poetry and drama. In having such experiences, either in real life or at second-hand through art, we can gain moral knowledge, rather as Mary the colour scientist can gain knowledge of colours; such knowledge is a real cognitive gain, but it is not knowledge of the propositional kind that philosophers have usually focused on.

Smartwood, Jason D.
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice16 (June 2013): 511-528

Practical wisdom is the intellectual virtue that enables a person to make reliably good decisions about how, all-things-considered, to live. As such, it is a lofty and important ideal to strive for. It is precisely this loftiness and importance that gives rise to important questions about wisdom: Can real people develop it? If so, how? What is the nature of wisdom as it manifests itself in real people? I argue that we can make headway answering these questions by modeling wisdom on expert skill. Presenting the main argument for this expert skill model of wisdom is the focus of this paper. More specifically, I’ll argue that wisdom is primarily the same kind of epistemic achievement as expert decision-making skill in areas such as firefighting. Acknowledging this helps us see that, and how, real people can develop wisdom. It also helps to resolve philosophical debates about the nature of wisdom. For example, philosophers, including those who think virtue should be modeled on skills, disagree about the extent to which wise people make decisions using intuitions or principled deliberation and reflection. The expert skill model resolves this debate by showing that wisdom includes substantial intuitive and deliberative and reflective abilities.

Graham, Peter A.
The Philosophical Review120 (July 2011): 337-382

A principle that many have found attractive is one that goes by the name “’Ought’ Implies ‘Can’.” According to this principle, one morally ought to do something only if one can do it. This essay has two goals: to show that the principle is false and to undermine the motivations that have been offered for it. Toward the end, a proposal about moral obligation according to which something like a restricted version of ‘Ought’ Implies ‘Can’ is true is floated. Though no full-fledged argument for this proposal is offered, that it fits with a rather natural and intuitive picture of the structure of morality and seems to explain certain salient features of the debate over whether the principle is true, goes some way toward recommending it.