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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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Right Action and Virtuous Motives

Right Action and Virtuous Motives

(p.72) 3 Right Action and Virtuous Motives
Practical Intelligence and the Virtues

Daniel C. Russell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

In his recent book Morals from Motives, Michael Slote defends what he calls “agent-based virtue ethics”. This view consists of two theses: one about the nature of rightness and one about the nature of virtuousness. The thesis about rightness is that a right action is right solely on account of the virtuous motivations that produced it. The thesis about virtuousness is that, on the one hand, actions become virtuous only on account of the virtuousness expressed by the agent in doing the action, and on the other that the virtuousness of an agent and an agent's motives is a “fundamental” notion and not grounded in anything else. Although most critiques of Slote's view have focused on his thesis about rightness, this chapter focuses instead on Slote's thesis about virtuousness. In particular, it rejects Slote's view that deliberation and phronesis are redundant if one really is virtuous, and argues instead that virtuous persons need to deliberate so as to find virtuous actions. The chapter also argues that making the virtuousness of agents fundamental in Slote's sense raises several perilous problems for agent-based virtue ethics. Phronesis is necessary for virtue on the grounds that virtuous persons are so on account of their appropriate responsiveness to reasons to act virtuously.

Keywords:   Aristotle, deliberation, intuitionism, naturalism, phronesis, reasons, right action, Michael Slote, virtue ethics

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