The Importance of Roles in the Skill Analogy

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 17 (1):75-102 (2020)
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This paper argues for a reinterpretation of the skill analogy in virtue ethics. It argues that the skill analogy should not be understood as proposing that being virtuous is analogous to possessing a practical skill but, rather, as proposing that being virtuous is analogous to being a good occupant of a skill-involving role. The paper argues for this by engaging with various standard objections to the analogy, two recent defences of it, and Aristotle’s treatment of it in developing his account of virtue in the Nicomachean Ethics. It aims to show that neither virtue nor the skill analogy is correctly understood without recourse to the notion of a role and that once we have recourse to that notion, many objections to the analogy are met.

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Matt Dougherty
University of Vienna


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