Virtue, Desire, and Silencing Reasons

In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 158-168 (2016)
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Abstract

John McDowell claims that virtuous people recognize moral reasons using a perceptual capacity that doesn't include desire. I show that the phenomena he cites are better explained if desire makes us see considerations favoring its satisfaction as reasons. The salience of moral considerations to the virtuous, like the salience of food to the hungry, exemplifies the emotional and attentional effects of desire. I offer a desire-based account of how we can follow uncodifiable rules of common-sense morality and how some reasons can be silenced in deliberation. I conclude by arguing that animals can be virtuous by having the right desires

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Neil Sinhababu
National University of Singapore

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