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Questions of Character$
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Iskra Fileva

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199357703

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199357703.001.0001

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Virtue and Cognition

Virtue and Cognition

Chapter:
(p.147) 9 Virtue and Cognition
Source:
Questions of Character
Author(s):

Alison Hills

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199357703.003.0009

Discussions of virtue often center on the non-cognitive aspects of virtue. But as this chapter argues, there is something special about the virtuous person’s cognition as well. How is this special element is to be understood? One common suggestion is that the virtuous person has knowledge of what to do. But a person can have knowledge by testimony. Intuitively, such a person lacks virtue. The chapter argues that what is characteristic of the virtuous person’s way of making moral judgments is not knowledge but moral understanding. Hills gives a number of reasons for this: moral understanding helps the agent who has it do the right thing reliably; a grasp of the morally relevant factors helps an agent in a complex situation achieve her goals without violating any moral norms; the agent with moral understanding is better able to justify her actions and give advice.

Keywords:   virtue, moral judgment, do the right thing, moral norms, moral understanding, knowledge by testimony

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