The Virtues of the Vices of Virtue Ethics by Robert Louden

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In this essay I will consider the objections to Virtue Ethics (VE) raised by Robert Louden in his article entitled On Some Vices of Virtue Ethics which was published in 1984. It is important to note at the outset of this essay that it was not until 1991 that the v-rules came up in literature. So Louden is assuming throughout his article that the only action guidance that VE can give is “Do what the virtuous agent would do in the circumstances.” I will be addressing Louden’s objections with the benefit of knowing about the v-rules. First of all, let us discuss what VE is. VE is a normative ethical theory that emphasises the virtues or moral character, thus it focuses on the moral agent. It differs from Deontology which emphasises duties or rules, and Utilitarianism which emphasises the consequences of our actions.

Louden opens up his article with this statement “It is common knowledge by now that recent philosophical and theological writings about ethics reveals a marked revival of interest in the virtues. But what exactly are the distinctive features of a so-called virtue ethics? Does it have a specific contribution to make to our understanding of moral experience? Is there a price to be paid for its different perspective, and if so, is the price worth paying?” This opening statement gives us a taste of his thoughts about VE already. Louden goes to raise his objections. I will consider the objections he raises under the headings in his article, those being ‘Agents vs Acts’ , ‘Who is Virtuous’ , ‘Style over Substance’ , and ‘Utopianism’ .

Agents vs Acts
Louden opens this section with this statement: “… it is commonplace that virtue theorists focus on good and bad agents rather than on right and wrong acts.” This is a good th...

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...r consulting my Minister (Major Allan Bateman) he said that “The Christian understanding will be that behaviours flow out of the values held. If someone says they belief in serving and caring for others, yet in practice rip them off, what is their TRUE belief? The true value they have, we say, MUST be that value out of which their action comes or flows.”

Works Cited

Bateman, Allan. "Person and Action." Auckland: The Salvation Army Auckland City Corps, 2014.
Bateman, Linda. "Father Forgive Them." In Easter Auckland: The Salvation Army Auckland City Corps, 2014.
Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. http://www.oxfordscholarship.com.
———. "Right Action." In On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Louden, Robert B. "On Some Vices of Virtue Ethics." American Philosophical Quarterly 21, no. 3 (1984): 227-36.

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