Single Idea 9260

[catalogued under 23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 1. Virtue Theory / d. Virtue theory critique]

Full Idea

It is untrue to urge that, since courage is a virtue, we ought to act courageously. We feel an obligation to act, but not from a certain desire. The action is done from obligation, so isn't an act of courage. ..In fact, virtue is no basis for morality.

Gist of Idea

Virtues won't generate an obligation, so it isn't a basis for morality


H.A. Prichard (Does moral phil rest on a mistake? [1912])

Book Reference

Prichard,H.A.: 'Moral Writings' [OUP 2002], p.17

A Reaction

One of the few interesting and direct attacks on virtue theory, before its modern revival. Prichard urges a perception of what is valuable (or good) as the basis for obligation and right action. He is right that values come first, in virtue and elsewhere.

Related Idea

Idea 497 Be virtuous from duty, not from fear [Democritus (attr)]