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Virtue ethics in the contemporary social and political realm.

Cordell, Sean (2010) Virtue ethics in the contemporary social and political realm. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis concerns the problem of applying the ideas developed in contemporary virtue ethics to political philosophy. The core of the problem, explained in the opening chapters, is that assessment of right action offered by virtue ethics - in terms of what 'the virtuous person' characteristically does or would do - is focused on individual persons, rather than political principles of government. Accordingly, interpretations of traditional Aristotelianism have struggled to accommodate the putative value of modern value pluralism and manifold conceptions of the 'good life', whilst liberal theories that employ virtue concepts fail to offer a political philosophy that is distinctly virtue ethical. Rather than trying to fit individualistic virtue ethics to political theory in these ways, subsequent chapters start from the viewpoint of individuals and look outward to their social and political environment, arguing that an adequately socio-political virtue ethics requires, and suits, an ethics of social roles. Various virtue ethical approaches to roles, however, fail in different ways to determine what it means to act virtuously in such a role. Inresponse, it is argued that virtue ethics needs a normative account of what specific role-determining institutions should be like. The possibilities for the Aristotelian ergon - function or 'characteristic activity' - serving as a normative criterion for a good institution of its kind are discussed and modified, leading to a positive account of institutional ergon that links the primary function of an institution with the specific and distinct human good or goods that it serves. The promissory conclusion to the thesis is that contemporary virtue ethics can, in this way, offer a distinct and enlightening approach to social and political philosophy, whilst also strengthening itself as an ethical theory.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Philosophy (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.522499
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2017 14:22
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2017 14:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14539

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