Volume 88, 2014
Dispositions, Habits, and Virtues
Defending Virtue against the Situationist Challenge
Aristotle, Aquinas, and Contemporary Metaphysicians on Degreed Traits
My essay addresses the situationist critique of virtue ethics. I defend a rarity of virtue response to this critique, but blunt its tip by developing an account of degrees of virtue. On this account, full virtue will indeed be a statistical rarity, but lesser degrees of virtue more common. I argue for this degreed conception of virtue both on historical and systematic grounds: historically, I show that Aristotle and especially Aquinas thought of virtue as being the sort of property that admits of degrees; and systematically, I draw from recent work in metaphysics on dispositions that challenges a simple counterfactual account of dispositions, and allows for gradable dispositions.