Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 459–476 | Cite as

On the Tedium of the Good

  • Samantha Vice


It seems to be a phenomenon of contemporary life that we consider goodness embarrassing and rather dull. In contrast, the activities and inner lives of villains are deemed more complex and fascinating than those of good people. This paper attempts to understand the conception of goodness that underlies this phenomenon, and I suggest that informing it is the combination of two ideas, in tension with each other: firstly, a distorted understanding of the ancient conception of full virtue as the absence of all inner conflict; and secondly, the intuition that real goodness is only apparent and generated in inner conflict. In response, I offer an alternative picture of goodness as an ongoing, active and progressive relation to value, and conclude that in order to render goodness attractive again we need more adequate portraits of goodness from both philosophy and art.


goodness wickedness vices of tedium passivity activity art 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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