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The nature of moral virtue
The dissertation is centered around the Moral Virtuosity Project (the attempt to provide necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing's being a moral virtue). The central task of the dissertation is to examine what other philosophers have had to say on this topic and ultimately to successfully complete this project. ^ Chapter One is concerned exclusively with Aristotle's attempt to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. I defend the view that Aristotle holds that each moral virtue is a disposition toward proper practical reasoning, action, and emotion within a certain sphere. I critically examine Aristotle's argument for the unity of the virtues. I then try to point to some areas where Aristotle's views on moral virtue fail to correspond with our ordinary common sense views on moral virtue. ^ Chapter Two has three main parts. First, I consider Immanuel Kant's attempt to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. I develop an interpretation of Kant's views on this topic. Second, I take up the topic of the relationship between Aristotle's views on moral virtue and Kant's views on moral virtue. Third, I examine some objections to Kant's views on moral virtue. I conclude that Kant's account of moral virtue goes wrong because it is inextricably tied up with the concept of moral obligation. ^ Chapter Three is devoted to critical discussions of contemporary attempts to complete the Moral Virtuosity Project. Authors whose views are discussed include: G. H. von Wright, Philippa Foot, Judith Thomson, Linda Zagzebski, and Thomas Hurka. I conclude that each view has serious problems. ^ In Chapter Four I develop a novel account of moral virtue by appealing to the concept of admirability. Drawing on work on virtue by Michael Slote, I try to shed some light on the concept of admirability and distinguish the concept from related concepts. I then appeal to the concept of admirability to explicate the concept of a moral virtue, thus completing the Moral Virtuosity Project. I discuss a number of other topics, including “hard cases”, excessive virtue, and two sorts of morally virtuous persons: the Good Hearted Hero and the Conflicted Hero. ^
Erik Joseph Wielenberg,
"The nature of moral virtue"
(January 1, 2000).
Electronic Doctoral Dissertations for UMass Amherst.