Virtue Ethics: An Introduction

Overview

In this fresh evaluation of Western ethics, noted philosopher Richard Taylor argues that philosophy must return to the classical notion of virtue as the basis of ethics. To ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, ethics was chiefly the study of how individuals attain personal excellence, or "virtue," defined as intellectual sophistication, wisdom, strength of character, and creativity. With the ascendancy of the Judeo-Christian ethic, says Taylor, this emphasis on pride of personal worth was lost. Instead, ...

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Virtue Ethics: An Introduction (Prometheus Lecture Series)

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Overview

In this fresh evaluation of Western ethics, noted philosopher Richard Taylor argues that philosophy must return to the classical notion of virtue as the basis of ethics. To ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, ethics was chiefly the study of how individuals attain personal excellence, or "virtue," defined as intellectual sophistication, wisdom, strength of character, and creativity. With the ascendancy of the Judeo-Christian ethic, says Taylor, this emphasis on pride of personal worth was lost. Instead, philosophy became preoccupied with defining right and wrong in terms of a divine lawgiver, and the concept of virtue was debased to mean mere obedience to divine law. Even today, in the absence of religious belief, modern thinkers unwittingly continue this legacy by creating hairsplitting definitions of good and evil.

Taylor points out that the ancients rightly understood the ultimate concern of ethics to be the search for happiness, a concept that seems to have eluded contemporary society despite unprecedented prosperity and convenience. Extolling Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, Taylor urges us to reread this brilliant and still relevant treatise, especially its emphasis on an ethic of aspiration.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781573929431
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2002
  • Series: Prometheus Lecture Series
  • Pages: 141
  • Sales rank: 1,005,827
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Taylor (Interlaken, NY) has held professorships in philosophy at Brown University, the graduate faculty of Columbia University, and the University of Rochester. He is the author of Restoring Pride; Love Affairs: Marriage & Infidelity; and Freedom, Anarchy, and the Law.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Pt. 1 Two Approaches to Ethics
Ch. 2 The Ethics of Duty and the Ethics of Aspiration 4
Ch. 3 The Ideas of Right and Wrong 11
Ch. 4 The Emergence of Philosophy and Religion 19
Pt. 2 The Ideals of Personal Excellence and Happiness
Ch. 5 Greek Ethical Ideals 28
Ch. 6 Socratic Ethics 33
Ch. 7 The Idea of Natural Law 40
Ch. 8 Cynics and Stoics 46
Ch. 9 Platonism and Ethical Relativism 52
Ch. 10 Aristotle's Ethics 59
Pt. 3 Duty vs. Aspiration
Ch. 11 The Foundation of the Ethics of Duty 72
Ch. 12 Religion and the Concept of Moral Obligation 77
Ch. 13 The Destruction of the Ideal of Virtue 85
Ch. 14 The Religious Framework of Modern Ethics 89
Ch. 15 The Virtue of Pride 98
Ch. 16 Happiness 107
Index 123
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