A Third Method of Ethics?
Article first published online: 25 JUL 2012
© 2012 Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LLC
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
How to Cite
CRISP, R. (2012), A Third Method of Ethics?. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. doi: 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00607.x
- Article first published online: 25 JUL 2012
In recent decades, the idea has become common that so-called virtue ethics constitutes a third option in ethics in addition to consequentialism and deontology. This paper argues that, if we understand ethical theories as accounts of right and wrong action, this is not so. Virtue ethics turns out to be a form of deontology (that is, non-consequentialism). The paper then moves to consider the Aristotelian distinction between right or virtuous action on the one hand, and acting rightly or virtuously on the other. It is claimed that virtue might play an important role in an explanation of acting virtuously (as it does in Aristotle’s ethics), but that such explanations can be charged with ‘double-counting’ the moral value of the virtues. The paper concludes that, if we focus on the question of the value of virtue, rather than on the notion of right action, there is room for a self-standing and important view which could be described as virtue ethics.