The Turn Toward Virtue(2)
The second half of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first witnessed a striking increase of interest in neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics and, more generally, in the question of the significance of virtue. What is at stake in this turn toward virtue? Is it at bottom nothing more than the articulation of a new approach in ethics to be set alongside utilitarian and Kantian approaches? Or does it call for a radical re-evaluation of deeply entrenched assumptions about moral thought and action? In this course, we will consider the writings of moral philosophers who present their stress on virtue as a call for a revolution in ethics. Our emphasis will be on works by Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot, three of the twentieth century's great moral philosophers (and also: three of its great women moral philosophers). We will also read work by Julia Annas, Annette Baier, Alisdair McIntyre, John McDowell, Michael Thompson and David Wiggins.