By John Wilson (auth.)
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Hence we omit (a) virtues like a sense of identity or self-esteem that may have no direct connection with action; and (b) virtues which one may be born with or acquire so early that one has no power of choice in respect of them- the virtues, for instance, of being calm, or active, or interested in other people, or enthusi- Morality, Virtues and Categories 27 astic about life. It is clear that these basic dispositions must profoundly affect the adult virtues which can be seen as more liable to training and the will: in a sense, the adult virtues are based on this early material or constructed from it.
But now his trouble is that he has no mechanism for bringing criticism to bear on anyone else who finds himself disposed to erect quite different absolute principles of action - the principle that it is always wrong to pass up an opportunity for torture, for instance. 'It is always wrong to do X' turns into 'It is always wrong for me to do X', or 'I always have an ("internal") reason not to do X'. If 'Absolutism' and 'Consequentialism' 45 that is what absolutists mean, they should say so. Interesting questions then arise about how we are to persuade them to negotiate with other people so as to arrive at some commonly-agreed set of reasons (questions not, I think, to be fully answered by a logical analysis of terms like 'ought', 'wrong' and 'good', since the reasons they use for their choice of actions will also be used to determine their choice of language): questions which might lead to asking whether love and respect for persons other than oneself are, like honesty, the best policy.
It is probably true that the virtues are not on all fours with each other, and that we might want to recognise certain super-virtues which embraced or stood above lower-level virtues (as perhaps justice embraces the virtues of honesty and promise-keeping and respect for others); certainly we have to distinguish the judgemental from the executive virtues. But there seems no good reason for not calling them all virtues. But now we seem to have an embarras de richesse, since there may be thousands of capacities that the good man will need to call on or bring on stage from time to time.
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