THE SPECTER OF RELATIVISM: A CRITIQUE OF ROSALIND HURSTHOUSE'S ON VIRTUE ETHICS
Ghadyani, Ahmad 1980-
Virtue ethics has been a major ethical theory from Antiquity to the present. Despite its persistence on the philosophical scene, in recent years (especially after the publication of After Virtue in 1981) it has been severely criticized for being open to the charge of relativism. In this thesis, I focus on Rosalind Hursthouse’s reconstruction of Aristotle’s enterprise. In the first chapter I examine her aspiration to explain right action solely in terms of the virtuousness of moral agents. Unless Hursthouse concedes, at least to some extent to the moral relativist, I conclude that it is not possible to articulate the rightness of action on a virtue-based account. Hursthouse also rejects the very existence of second order rules and principles which guide moral agents when moral virtues and their corresponding v-rules have an adverse claim upon us. I will demonstrate that Hursthouse’s rejection of the codifiability thesis, again, forces her to concede even more to moral relativism. The inability to fill the gap between the virtuousness of a moral agent and the rightness of her action is not the only aspect of Hursthouse’s version of virtue ethics that is open to relativism. She also fails to provide a viable procedure for validating moral virtues. In the second chapter, I concentrate on Hursthouse’s reconstruction of Aristotelian ethical naturalism which is one of the most significant attempts to ground moral virtues independently of any moral rules and principles. I demonstrate that the naturalistic validation of moral virtues is susceptible to the cultural context in which virtues are supposed to be validated. In the framework of ethical naturalism, we are social animals. When normative virtues are presumed to be based on our being, it is inevitable that our sociality, and thus our cultural background, permeates the naturalistic moral virtues.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
CommitteeO'Hagan, Emer; Liptay, John; Béland , Daniel; Moore, Dwayne
Copyright DateJune 2017
On Virtue Ethics