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Virtue ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L111-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Virtue ethics has its origin in the ancient world, particularly in the writings of Plato and Aristotle. It has been revived following an article by G. E. M. Anscombe critical of modern ethics and advocating a return to the virtues.

Some have argued that virtue ethics constitutes a third option in moral theory additional to utilitarianism and Kantianism. Utilitarians and Kantians have responded vigorously, plausibly claiming that their views already incorporate many of the theses allegedly peculiar to virtue ethics.

Virtue theory, the study of notions, such as character, related to the virtues, has led to the recultivation of barren areas. These include: What is the good life, and what part does virtue play in it? How stringent are the demands of morality? Are moral reasons independent of agents’ particular concerns? Is moral rationality universal? Is morality to be captured in a set of rules, or is the sensitivity of a virtuous person central in ethics?

From virtue ethics, and the virtue theory of which it is a part, have emerged answers to these questions at once rooted in ancient views and yet distinctively modern.

Citing this article:
Crisp, Roger. Virtue ethics, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L111-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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