Philosophical Studies

, Volume 148, Issue 1, pp 147–158 | Cite as

Comments on Robert Adams, A theory of virtue: excellence in being for the good

  • Rachana Kamtekar

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’...


Moral Education Practical Wisdom Good Memory Virtuous Person Evaluative Attitude 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Robert Adams, John Doris, Julia Annas (my co-panelists), and the audience at that session, for their discussion.


  1. Adams, R. M. (2006). A theory of virtue: Excellence in being for the good. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Badhwar, N. K. (1996). The limited unity of virtue. Nous, 30, 306–329.Google Scholar
  3. Bem, D., & Allen, A. (1974). On predicting some of the people some of the time: The search for cross-situational consistencies in behavior. Psychological Review, 81, 506–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cooper, J. M. (1999). ‘The unity of virtue’ in reason and emotion (pp. 76–117). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cosmides, L. 1985. Deduction or Darwinian algorithms? An explanation of the ‘Elusive’ content effect on the Wason selection task. PhD Dissertation, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  6. Darley, J. M., & Batson, C. D. (1973). “From Jerusalem to Jericho”: A study of situational and dispositional variables in helping behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 27(1), 100–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hartshorne, H., & May, M. A. (1928). Studies in the nature of character, vol 1: The nature of deceit. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. Kamtekar, R. (2004). Situationism and virtue ethics on the content of our character. Ethics, 114(3), 458–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Milgram, S. (1963). Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 371–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Milgram, S. (1974). Obedience to authority. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  11. Mischel, W., & Peake, P. K. (1982). Beyond Déjà vu in the search for cross-situational consistency. Psychological Review, 89(6), 730–755.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ross, L., & Nisbett, R. E. (1991). The person and the situation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations