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Practical Intelligence and the Virtues$
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Daniel C. Russell

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565795.001.0001

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Phronesis and the Unity of the Virtues

Phronesis and the Unity of the Virtues

(p.335) 11 Phronesis and the Unity of the Virtues
Practical Intelligence and the Virtues

Daniel C. Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The thesis that the virtues form a unity — in particular, that to have any virtue is to have them all — has struck many as hopelessly ambitious: isn't it obvious that people have some virtues and even the phronesis that goes with them, while nonetheless lacking other virtues? This chapter first considers whether the virtues conflict and whether the development of different virtues may be zero-sum, defending a negative answer in each case. It then defends the idea that what unifies the virtues is the phronesis they all share. Finally, it distinguishes between two interpretations of the unity thesis. The unity thesis is typically interpreted as holding that, for any agent, that agent can have phronesis only if that agent also has all the virtues. By contrast, the chapter interprets the unity thesis as holding that any theoretical model of phronesis must also be a model of all the virtues, and argues that, so interpreted, the unity thesis is true.

Keywords:   Aristotle, ideals, Nicomachean Ethics, phronesis, Plato, unity of virtue, virtue theory, virtuous person

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