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7 The Fortunes of Virtue Ethics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter traces two dimensions of agency as conceived in Anglo-American Aristotelian virtue ethics, from their incipient phase to current criticisms of virtue ethics. Historically, virtue ethics came into play, and has remained in play, not least as a criticism of exaggerated faith in the individual as an unproblematic source of moral action. Among theorists of forms of ethics prevalent in the Anglo-American sphere when virtue ethics first entered the scene, the focus was elsewhere, not least on issues pertaining to the status of ethical justification. The notion of the practically engaged individual proffered by virtue ethicists, is generally one of a type of agent for whom good (virtuous) action is a real accomplishment. This dimension of achievement is only reinforced by the ideal of the perfect agent implied by virtue ethical perfectionism. Aristotelian virtue ethics in its current form came into existence as a criticism of Modernity.

Keywords: Anglo-American sphere; Modernity; virtue ethics



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