In the philosophy of action, agency manifests the capacity of the agent to act. An agent is one who acts voluntarily, consciously and intentionally. This article studies the relationship between virtues and agency to learn to what extent agency is conceptually and metaphysically dependent on moral or epistemic virtues; whether virtue is a necessary condition for action and agency, besides the belief, desire and intention? Or are virtues necessary merely for the moral or epistemic character of the agent and not his agency? If virtues are constructive elements of personal identity, can we say that virtues are necessary for action and agency? If we accept that virtues play a role in agency, the principle of “Ought Implies Can” makes us face a new challenge; which we will discuss. After explaining the concept of action and agency, I will study the relationship between agency and virtues in the field of ethics and epistemology. Ultimately, I conclude that not only in theories of virtue but also in other ethical theories, virtue is independently necessary for the actualization of agency; even if, conceptually, there might not be any relation between the two. In many cases, virtue can also have a crucial role in prudential agency.
agency, action, moral virtue, epistemic virtue, the principle of “Ought Implies Can”.
* Ph.D., Professor. Department of Islamic Philosophy and Theology, University of Qom, Qom, Iran. ׀ [email protected]