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Linda Zagzesbki, , . Virtues of the Mind: An Inquiry Into the Nature of Virtue and the Ethical Foundations of Knowledge.
1996, Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Rie Iizuka, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

lmost all theories of knowledge and justified belief employ moral concepts and forms of argument borrowed from moral theories, but none of them pay attention to the current renaissance in virtue ethics. This remarkable book is the first attempt to establish a theory of knowledge based on the model of virtue theory in ethics. The book develops the concept of an intellectual virtue, and then shows how the concept can be used to give an account of the major concepts in epistemology, including the concept of knowledge. This highly original work of philosophy for professionals will also provide students with an excellent introduction to epistemology, virtue theory, and the relationship between ethics and epistemology.

Comment: This book is highly original, cutting edge work, suitable for students at all levels. By introducing the notion of intellectual virtues in an Aristotelian model, Linda Zagzesbki developed a whole new field of epistemology, now known as virtue responsibilism. In this book, she not only tries to explain the notion of intellectual virtues but also define knowledge by way of intellectual virtues.

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McTernan, Emily, , . How to Make Citizens Behave: Social Psychology, Liberal Virtues, and Social Norms
2014, Journal of Political Philosophy 22(1): 84-104.
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Added by: Carl Fox, Contributed by:

Abstract: It is widely conceded by liberals that institutions alone are insufficient to ensure that citizens behave in the ways required for a liberal state to flourish, be stable, or function at all. A popular solution proposes cultivating virtues in order to secure the desired behaviours of citizens, where institutions alone would not suffice. A range of virtues are proposed to fill a variety of purported gaps in the liberal political order. Some appeal to virtues in order to secure state stability; Rawls, for instance, claims that ‘citizens must have a sense of justice and the political virtues that support political and social institutions’ in order to ensure an ‘enduring society’. For Galston, citizens must possess a range of virtues in order for the state to function, including the virtues of courage, independence, tolerance, willingness to engage in public discourse, and law-abidingness.

Comment: Challenges the relevance of debates about virtue for liberals concerned with stability and argues that they would be better advised to look to social norms for assistance. Raises some interesting questions for proponents of liberalism and does a nice job of envisioning the instrumental potential of social norms for political theorists. Very useful further reading for anyone interested in (or writing on) either stability or social norms.

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Preston-Roedder, Ryan, , . Faith in Humanity
2013, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87(3): 664-687.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: History and literature provide striking examples of people who are morally admirable, in part, because of their profound faith in people’s decency. But moral philosophers have largely ignored this trait, and I suspect that many philosophers would view such faith with suspicion, dismissing it as a form of naïvete or as some other objectionable form of irrationality. I argue that such suspicion is misplaced, and that having a certain kind of faith in people’s decency, which I call faith in humanity, is a centrally important moral virtue. In order to make this view intuitively more plausible, I discuss two moral exemplars – one historical and the other literary – whose lives vividly exhibit such faith. Then I provide a rationale for the view that having such faith is morally admirable. Finally, I discuss cases in which someone’s faith in humanity can lead her to make judgments that are, to some degree, epistemically irrational. I argue that the existence of such cases does not pose a serious objection to the view that having faith in humanity is a moral virtue. Rather, it makes salient important limits on the role that epistemic, as opposed to practical, rationality should occupy in our ideals of how to live.

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Sherman, Nancy, , . The Look and Feel of Virtue
2005, In Christopher Gill (ed.), Virtue, Norms, and Objectivity: Issues in Ancient and Modern Ethics. Clarendon Press
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Added by: John Baldari, Contributed by:

Abstract: For much of the twentieth century it was common to contrast the characteristic forms and preoccupations of modern ethical theory with those of the ancient world. However, the last few decades have seen a growing recognition that contemporary moral philosophy now has much in common with its ancient incarnation, in areas as diverse as virtue ethics and ethical epistemology. Christopher Gill has assembled an international team to conduct a fascinating exploration of the relationship between the two fields, exploring key issues in ancient ethics in a way that highlights their conceptual significance for the study of ethics more generally. Virtue, Norms, and Objectivity will be as interesting and relevant to modern moral philosophers, therefore, as it will be to specialists in ancient thought.

Comment: This chapter is recommended additional reading for in-depth studies on Virtue Theory specifically.
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Swanton, Christine, , . A Virtue Ethical Account of Right Action
2001, Ethics 112(1): 32-52.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Introduction: It is a common view of virtue ethics that it emphasizes the evaluation of agents and downplays or ignores the evaluation of acts, especially their evaluation as right or wrong. Despite this view, some contemporary proponents of virtue ethics have explicitly offered a virtue ethical criterion of the right, contrasting that criterion with Kantian and consequentialist criteria. I too believe that though the virtues themselves require excellence in affective and motivational states, they can also provide the basis of accounts of rightness of actions, where the criteria for rightness can deploy notions of success extending beyond such agent-centered excellences. They can do this, I shall claim, through the notion of the target or aim of a virtue. This notion can provide a distinctively virtue ethical notion of rightness of actions. In this article I make two basic assumptions: first, that a virtue ethical search for a virtue ethical criterion of rightness is an appropriate search, and second, since virtue ethics in modern guise is still in its infancy, relatively speaking, more work needs to be done in the exploration of virtue ethical criteria of the right.

Comment: This paper attempts to develop virtue ethics by outlining a way that a clear concept of right action can form a part of it, as well as describing and addressing some of the gaps in modern virtue ethics. It would be useful as part of an in-depth examination of virtue ethics, either in a course on normative ethics or perhaps as a look at how the virtue ethics of the ancients could be adapted to be relevant for modern society. Though it requires some background knowledge of virtue ethics, in a context where that has been provided it would be suitable for undergraduate students.

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Swanton, Christine, , . Virtue Ethics
2011, in Christian Miller (ed.), The Continuum (or Bloomsbury) Companion to Ethics.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Introduction: Part I of this article discusses the nature of virtue ethics as a type of normative ethical theory, alongside primarily consequentialism and Kantianism. However, since the virtue concepts are central to all types of virtue ethics, attention needs to be paid to the notion of virtue as an excellence of character, and related notions such as the virtue concepts as aplied to actions (e.g., kind act). Part II discusses the notion of virtue as an excellence of character, while part III further elucidates the nature of virtue ethics by considering a number of central but selected issues, such as the notion of virtuous action and virtue ethical conceptions of right action. Needless to say not all of interest can be treated here.

Comment: A good, detailed overview of virtue ethics, including a good examination of the degree of diversity virtue ethical views can have. It would serve as a good first introduction to the topic, either in an undergraduate course on moral theory generally or virtue ethics specifically.

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Swanton, Christine, , . Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View
2003, Clarendon Press.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book offers a comprehensive virtue ethics that breaks from the tradition of eudaimonistic virtue ethics. In developing a pluralistic view, it shows how different ‘modes of moral response’ such as love, respect, appreciation, and creativity are all central to the virtuous response and thereby to ethics. It offers virtue ethical accounts of the good life, objectivity, rightness, demandingness, and moral epistemology.

Comment: This book offers an interesting, distinctive form of virtue ethics. It would be valuable as a different perspective and an illustration of the different directions one can take virtue theory. Due to its complexity, it is best taught to graduate students or upper-level/honours undergraduates, who have already received a grounding in the fundamentals of virtue ethics.

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Wolf, Susan, , . Moral Psychology and the Unity of the Virtues
2007, Ratio 20 (2): 145–167.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: The ancient Greeks subscribed to the thesis of the Unity of Virtue, according to which the possession of one virtue is closely related to the possession of all the others. Yet empirical observation seems to contradict this thesis at every turn. What could the Greeks have been thinking of? The paper offers an interpretation and a tentative defence of a qualified version of the thesis. It argues that, as the Greeks recognized, virtue essentially involves knowledge – specifically, evaluative knowledge of what matters. Furthermore, such knowledge is essentially holistic. Perfect and complete possession of one virtue thus requires the knowledge that is needed for the possession of every other virtue. The enterprise of trying to reconcile the normative view embodied in this conception of virtue with empirical observation also serves as a case study for the field of moral psychology in which empirical and normative claims are often deeply and confusingly intertwined.

Comment: Useful as further reading in courses focusing on ancient and moral philosophy. Can be particularly useful in teaching on topics related to moral psychology and its relations with moral philosophy.

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