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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Part II - A theory of virtue and vice


We now begin the task of focusing epistemology on the concept of a virtue. In section 1, I distinguish several types of virtue theory by the ways they relate the fundamental moral concepts of a virtue, the good, and a right act. A pure virtue theory makes the concept of a right act derivative from the concept of a virtue, although there is more than one way such a theory can relate virtue to the good. Much of what I will do in Part II is compatible with many forms of aretaic ethics, but I am particularly interested in two forms of pure virtue theory: happiness-based and motivation-based theories. One of my aims in the rest of this book is to demonstrate that both forms of pure virtue theory, including the more radical, motivation-based theory, can be developed in ways that adequately handle epistemic evaluation. Incidentally, I expect moral philosophers will find something of interest in this part of the book, whether or not they have any interest in epistemology.

Section 2 will be devoted to a careful account of the nature of a virtue, distinguishing it from feeling states, from natural capacities, and from skills. I identify both a motivational component and a reliability component in virtue. In section 3 I turn to an investigation of the intellectual virtues. I argue that intellectual virtues are forms of moral virtue and that the many logical and causal connections among the moral and intellectual virtues make it important for a virtue theory to be broad enough in scope to account for the entire range of intellectual and moral virtues in a single theory.

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Virtues of the Mind
  • Online ISBN: 9781139174763
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