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Some Questions about Virtue

Some Questions about Virtue,” in Elisa Grimi ed., Virtue Ethics: Retrospect and Prospect (New York: Springer, 2019).

Abstract. So far as Anglophone academic study is concerned, interest in the idea of virtue as a central concept in ethical theory only dates from the late 1950s beginning with Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Modern Moral Philosophy” but getting its first specific discussion in Georg Von Wright’s 1963 book The Varieties of Goodness in which he writes: “Virtue is a neglected topic in modern ethics”. As the present essay shows, these words became a common refrain through the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The rise to prominence of ideas of virtue in philosophy and then in educational theory and in psychology, as well as in schemes for establishing good practice in various fields of professional and public life raises questions about how a focus on virtue relates to other ways of evaluating agents and actions, and of how virtue itself may be identified and assessed.

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