Monday, February 28, 2011

Some questions to ask about the particular virtues

In prepping for class tomorrow I jotted down a list of 12 questions that we can ask about any particular virtue. I imagine others have made better lists of questions and systematically answered them, but still, I thought the list might be useful to teachers of virtue ethics.

What is it?
1. Can you give a pithy definition of it?
2. Is it a form of self control with regard to an emotion?
3. Is it a mean between two extremes?

How does it relate to the other virtues?
4. Is it a special case of another virtue?
5. Does it need to be distinguished from another virtue that it is often confused with?
6. Is there a general class of virtue that it falls under?

What can we learn about this virtue from others?
7. Are there relevant findings in empirical psychology?
8. Do different cultures regard this virtue differently?
9. How have people symbolized or represented this virtue artistically?

How do I cultivate this virtue in my own life?
10. Is this one that I am good at, or one that I need to work on?
11. What happens to people who lack this virtue?
12. What habits can I adopt to cultivate this virtue.


Anonymous said...

Before deciding to adopt this particular virtue some might want to know what the benefits of having it are---for others and for themselves.

What are the effects of having this virtue?

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

That's sort of the flip side of my question 11: "What happens to people who lack this virtue?" Maybe I should combine them.

Anonymous said...

Combine them or list them one after the other---what happens when people possess this virtue what happens when it disappears?

For some virtues, clearly, the answers are more obvious---compassion makes the world a better place---the absence of it makes it brutal. Honesty, on the other hand, is more complicated since honesty can cause harm in some cases and the absence of honesty can actually have positive outcomes sometimes.

For a virtue like honesty both questions might be useful.