The Limits of Virtue Ethics

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 10:255-282 (2020)
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Virtue ethics is often understood as a rival to existing consequentialist, deontological, and contractualist views. But some have disputed the position that virtue ethics is a genuine normative ethical rival. This chapter aims to crystallize the nature of this dispute by providing criteria that determine the degree to which a normative ethical theory is complete, and then investigating virtue ethics through the lens of these criteria. In doing so, it’s argued that no existing account of virtue ethics is a complete normative ethical view that rivals existing consequentialist, deontological, and contractualist views. Moreover, it is argued that one of the most significant challenges facing virtue ethics consists in offering an account of the right-making features of actions, while remaining a distinctively virtue ethical view.

Author Profiles

Yishai Cohen
University of Southern Maine
Travis Timmerman
Seton Hall University


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