<ethics, politics, moral philosophy> excellence, skill, or art. In classical thought, virtues are admirable human characteristics or dispositions that distinguish good people from bad. Socrates sought a singular virtue for human life, while Plato identified four central virtues present in the ideal state or person. Aristotle held that every moral virtue is the mean between vicious extremes. Modern deontologists and utilitarians tend to suppose that individual virtues are morally worthwhile only when they encourage the performance of duty or contribute to the general welfare. Recommended Reading: Virtue and Vice, ed. by Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred D. Miller, and George Sher (Cambridge, 1998); Nancy Sherman, Making a Necessity of Virtue: Aristotle and Kant on Virtue (Cambridge, 1997); Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, 1997); John Casey, Pagan Virtue: An Essay in Ethics (Oxford, 1992); Jonathan Jacobs, Choosing Character: Responsibility for Virtue and Vice (Cornell, 2001); and Michael A. Weinstein, Finite Perfection: Reflections on Virtue (Massachusetts, 1985).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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