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Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 8, pp 2171–2191 | Cite as

A Humean particularist virtue ethic

  • Erin Frykholm
Article

Abstract

Virtue ethical theories typically follow a neo-Aristotelian or quasi-Aristotelian model, making use of various combinations of key features of the Aristotelian model including eudaimonism (the notion that virtue is a necessary component of individual flourishing), perfectionism (the idea that the truly virtuous agent achieves a sort of moral perfection), an account of practical wisdom, and the thesis of the unity of the virtues (roughly, that the virtues form a unified set and are mutually realized). In this paper I motivate what I call a Humean virtue ethic, which is a deeply particularist account of virtue that rejects all of these central tenets, at least in their traditional forms. Focusing on three factors by which Hume determines virtue, I show that this view of virtue resonates with the aims of the moral particularist, who holds that there are no general moral principles and that right action is determined only with reference to context and on a case-by-case basis. I use Hume’s texts to introduce and motivate three claims, which I find plausible, and which I will show can be read together as entailing an interesting and underappreciated picture of virtue that is also able to solve an important dilemma for particularist virtue ethics.

Keywords

Particularism Virtue Hume 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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