In Defense of Agent-Based Virtue Ethics

  • Liezl Van Zyl


In ‘Against agent-based virtue ethics' (2004) Michael Brady rejects agent-based virtue ethics on the grounds that it fails to capture the commonsense distinction between an agent's doing the right thing, and her doing it for the right reason. In his view, the failure to account for this distinction has paradoxical results, making it unable to explain why an agent has a duty to perform a given action. I argue that Brady's objection relies on the assumption that an agent-based account is committed to defining obligations in terms of actual motives. If we reject this view, and instead provide a version of agent-basing that determines obligations in terms of the motives of the hypothetical virtuous agent, the paradox disappears.

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eISSN: 0556-8641