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John Mcdowell - Virtue and Reason
Pages 4 (1004 words)
In “Virtue and Reason”, John McDowell addresses some ancient accounts of virtue ethics that, despite their age, still retain a fair amount of relevance to modern discourse about morality.
McDowell’s notion of a virtuous agent depends on the “sensitivity” of the agent to see what a virtue requires (for instance, what constitutes prudence in a certain situation). This sensitivity arises in a virtuous agent when he or she is faced with the particular details of states of affairs. It is a perceptual awareness of the right reasons for acting in certain ways. Because such sensitivity amounts to getting things right, McDowell claims that this sensitivity is a form of knowledge, and since this sensitivity is a virtue, virtues extend directly from moral knowledge. As McDowell puts it, the reliable sensitivity constitutes knowledge and it is also a necessary condition for virtue. Accordingly, McDowell is claiming that knowledge is a necessary condition for virtues. But one can conceive of a person of who has moral knowledge, or virtues, but is unmotivated to act virtuously, which is a person that McDowell logically dismisses as impossible. ...
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