Depersonalizing Virtue: Against An Externalist Account



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While philosophers agree that virtues are excellences and vices are defects, they disagree about their precise nature. Julia Driver (2001) defends an account of virtue that argues against the relevance of internal states and emphasizes outcomes. On her view, a person is virtuous if and only if she systematically produces good consequences, regardless of her motives or intentions. In this paper, I argue that a fully externalized approach to virtue is unsatisfactory for a variety of reasons, primarily because it depersonalizes virtue. States of affairs are insufficient for determining the moral quality of an agent’s character and the traits that compose it, because two people could produce the exact same effects and yet we’d evaluate them in completely different ways. Based on their internal states, we would praise one and blame the other. Further, states of affairs fail to communicate anything about the most profound qualities of a moral agent, such as the things that they care about and value. This serves as evidence against the idea that a fully externalized approach captures the precise nature of moral virtue and character evaluation.



Virtue, Virtue ethics, Consequentialism, Evaluational externalism, Evaluational internalism, Driver, Julia