Comments on Robert Adams, A theory of virtue: excellence in being for the good
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Recent decades have seen a revival of interest in virtue as providing a new alternative for debates in normative ethics about the criterion of right action, as well as for debates in meta-ethics about the foundational ethical notion (act, principle or character?) and the best language of ethical evaluation (the purely evaluative ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or the richly descriptive language of virtue and vice, e.g. ‘kind’ and ‘cruel’?). Refreshingly, in A Theory of Virtue Professor Adams is interested in virtue for reasons that can be shared even by those who care little about these academic debates. For Adams (2006), virtue is important because good motives and good character, and not only right action, matter to living an ethical life. Adams’ guiding thought is that virtue is best understood in relation to the good, or to goods, rather than in relation to the right, for there are many ways of being for the good (p. 11). So he defines virtue as ‘persisting excellence in being for the good’...
KeywordsMoral Education Practical Wisdom Good Memory Virtuous Person Evaluative Attitude
I would like to thank Robert Adams, John Doris, Julia Annas (my co-panelists), and the audience at that session, for their discussion.
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