Mark Schroeder

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Douglas Portmore

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Discussion Note Editor:

Douglas Portmore

Four Solutions the the Alleged Incompleteness of Virtue Ethics

by Sean McAleer

In “Virtue and Right,” Robert Johnson argues that virtue ethics that accept standards such as Virtuous Agent (A’s x-ing is right in circumstances c iff a fully virtuous agent would x in c) are incomplete, since they cannot account for duties of moral self-improvement. In this paper I offer four solutions to the problem of incompleteness. The first discards Virtuous Agent and counts actions as wrong iff a vicious person would perform them. The second retains Virtuous Agent but counts self-improving actions as countererogatory: wrong but nonetheless good to do. The third replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard appealing to the Mengzian virtue of righteousness, understood as situational appropriateness. The fourth replaces Virtuous Agent with a standard that holds an action right if it promotes the agent’s virtue. Each solution accommodates duties of moral self-improvement, so a virtue ethics embracing any of them would not be incomplete.

ISSN 1559-3061
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