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virtue is not merely a tendency, nor is it (exactly) a desirable or morally valuable character trait
it is a trait that “goes all the way down”
it is multi-track; that is, it is not related to any one certain kind of action. rather it is connected to many other actions as well, with emotions and emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interests, expectations and sensibilities. hence, virtue can never be decided based on any single action.
virtue ethics is anti-codifiable. it does not allow for the expression of specific rules that would guide action.
as deontologists and utilitarians are concerned with generating universal rules of conduct that can be employed by everyone, they are disdainful of a system of ethics that does not provide any such rules
there is the problem cultural relativism: as all cultures have different virtues what is virtuous will vary from culture to culture. thus, as a normative system, virtue ethics fails
there is a problem of conflict. there are cases when different virtues will require different responses. at such a time there is no way to determine what the moral thing to do is.
how do we ground our ideas of what dispositions are virtues? what is the justification for calling honesty a virtue?
codifiability: there simply are no simple rules that guide action. what we do have are ideas about what we shouldn’t do. that is why our language has more words for vices than virtues
much invaluable action guidance comes from avoiding courses of action that would be irresponsible, feckless, lazy, inconsiderate, uncooperative, harsh, intolerant, selfish, mercenary, indiscreet, tactless, arrogant, unsympathetic, cold, incautious, unenterprising, pusillanimous, feeble, presumptuous, rude, hypocritical, self-indulgent, materialistic, grasping, short-sighted, vindictive, calculating, ungrateful, grudging, brutal, profligate, disloyal, and on and on.
cultural relativism: such is a problem for all normative ethics. one proposed solution is that there really are genuine virtues that apply to all, but there is disagreement as to which virtues these are
conflict: such problems exist for all systems. this is why moral wisdom is of utmost importance
justification: again, this is problem for all systems. however, there are some v-ethicists who claim that we can find justification for virtue ethics in evolutionary theory and psychology
if you want a good job, then graduate from school with honors; if you want to graduate from school with honors, then get good grades; if you want to get good grades, then study hard; etc.
kant said these cannot characterize moral actions because they are determined by the particulars of any situation. left in such a state actions will always be guided by inclinations, and inclinations cannot provide universality, something necessary for an act to be truly moral
says to do something merely because it is the right thing to do without regard for some further end