Volume 10, Issue 1, Spring 1996
The Primacy of Virtues in Ethical Theory
In fairly recent times there has been an enormous growth of interest, especially from ethical theorists generally under the speIl of Aristotle, in both the moral virtues and the central significance of the notion of a virtue for an adequate grasp of the character of moral life. In the light of this it may weIl appear a useful exercise to sketch in very broad terms how a virtue-theoretical account of moral life and the nature of our moral responses stands in relation to other ethical views and to present the general outline of a case for regarding such an approach as preferable to others. In the first part of this article, then, I tried to prepare the ground for a virtue-theoretical account by showing how a safe conceptual course needs to be steered between the Scylla of ethical realism and the Charybdis of non-cognitivism. In this second part, however, I shall endeavour to develop a more positive view of the way in which a virtue-theoretical approach may successfully steer this course.