Precollege Philosophy and Public Practice

Volume 2, Spring 2020

Rena Beatrice GoldsteinOrcid-ID
Pages 88-106

You Are Only as Good as You Are Behind Closed Doors
The Stability of Virtuous Dispositions

Virtues are standardly characterized as stable dispositions. A stable disposition implies that the virtuous actor must be disposed to act well in any domain required of them. For example, a politician is not virtuous if s/he is friendly in debate with an opponent, but hostile at home with a partner or children. Some recent virtue theoretic accounts focus on specific domains in which virtues can be exercised. I call these domain-variant accounts of virtue. This paper examines two such accounts: Randall Curren and Charles Dorn’s (2018) discussion of virtue in the civic sphere, and Michael Brady’s (2018) account of virtues of vulnerability. I argue that being consistent with the standard characterization of virtue requires generalizing beyond a domain. I suggest four actions the authors could take to preserve their accounts while remaining consistent with the standard characterization. I also discuss how virtue education could be enhanced by domain-variant accounts.