Philosophy 596A: Virtue Ethics
Required reading (partial syllabus)
Taught by Julia Annas

August 23: Introduction

August 30th: Virtues as dispositions. Are there any? If so, what are they like?
G. Harman, "Moral Philosophy Meets Social Psychology," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1999.
J. Doris, "Persons, Situations and Virtue Ethics," Nous 1998.
G. Sreenivasan, "Erros about Errors: Virtue Theory and Traits Attribution," Mind 2002.
J. Sabini and M. Silver, "Lack of Character? Situationism Critiqued," Ethics 2005.

September 6th: Could it be that we have only local traits? Is virtue ethics committed to our having global traits? If so, why?
T. Hurka, "Virtuous act, virtuous dispositions," forthcoming in Analysis.
R. Kamtekar, "Situationism and Virtue Ethics on the Content of our Character," Ethics 2004.
M. Merritt, "Virtue Ethics and Situationist Personality Psychology," Ethics Theory and Moral Practice 2000.

September 12th [not 13th; it's a Monday!] at 6:30pm: Virtues are dispositions which involve the development of practical reasononing. Some corollaries of this.
J. Annas, MS, chapter 2: "Virtue and Character."
N. Badhwar, "The Limited Unity of Virtue," Nous 1996.
J. Driver, Uneasy Virtue, chapters 2 and 3.

September 20th: Virtue and the emotions. How do virtues involve the emotions? To what extent does virtue ethics require a particular theory of what emotions are?
R. Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, chapter 4: "Aristotle and Kant" and chapter 5: "Virtue and the Emotions".

September 27th: Virtue and flourishing. Does having the virtues lead to flourishing? If so, is virtue ethics egoistic?
J. Annas, MS, chapter 3, "Virtue, Flourishing and Happiness," up to page 25.
T. Hurka, "Against Virtue Ethics," chapter 8 of Virtue, Vice and Value.
I think we are also reading Brad Hooker, "Does Being Virtuous Constitute a Benefit to the Agent?"

October 4th: What does flourishing have to do with happiness?
J. Annas, MS, rest of chapter 3, "Virtue, Flourishing and Happiness."
W. Sumner, chapter 6 of Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics [is that the right title?] (on reserve).

October 11th: Virtue and right action. How can a theory of virtue guide our actions?
J. Annas, MS, chapter 4, "Virtue and Right Actions."
R. Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, chapters 1-3, "Right Action," "Resolvable Dilemmas" and "Irresolvable and Tragic Dilemmas."

October 18th: The role of ideals in virtue. How conservative or revisionary will virtue ethics be?
J. Annas, MS, chapter 5, "Embeddedness and Ideal."

October 25th: Virtue and nature. How does human nature ground the virtues? How can virtue be naturalistic?
J. Annas, MS, chapter 6, "Virtue and Nature," up to page 17.
R. Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, part III (chapters 8-11)
(These are both long; we'll divide up the topic a bit and may take two weeks.)

November 1st: The rest of Annas's chapter 6?

November 8th: No class (because of the moral phenomenology workshop)


November 15th:
1) Chris, on the metaethics of virtue ethics
       Robbie comments
2) Michelle, on autonomy and moral education
       Laura comments

November 22nd:
1) Laura, on virtue ethics and moral education
       Helen comments
2) Nathan, on Driver's account of modesty as a virtue
       Annie comments

November 29th:
1) Robbie, on virtue ethics and right action, particularly tragic dilemmas
       Nathan comments
2) Daniel, on objectivity/subjectivity in happiness
       Michelle comments

December 6th:
1) Will, on virtue benefiting the agent
       Chris comments
2) Annie, on the role of emotion in virtue
       Daniel comments

December 8th at 4pm:
1) Helen, on environmental virtue ethics
       Will comments

A few words [from Julia] on how you are supposed to proceed. (Also, those who have done this before in Dave's or Mark's seminars can tell those who haven't). Part of the point is to help you develop the kind of professional skill you will need for APA presentations. So, the presentation will be 20 minutes and no more, and the response will be 10 minutes and no more, and there will be 30 minutes discussion. The sessions will go:

3.30 - everyone supposed to be there. Presentation begins sharp at
3.35, lasting 20 minutes to 3.55.
3.55 to 4.05 is reponse.
4.05 to 4.35 is discussion.
15 minute break; reassemble to start sharp at
4.55 second presentation, until 5.15
5.15 to 5.25 response.
30 minutes discussion brings us to 5.55.
Last 5 minutes for general questions about procedure, etc..

What you need to do: One week before your presentation, send an abstract of your presentation to the class list (not just this list). Ask Will to put it on the website. (Thanks in advance, Will!) Get your presentation to your commentator. (This will be tough for the first presenters. Do your best and work something out with your commentators.) Remember that you want the presentation that you are commenting on well in advance.

How the presentation relates to your final paper for the course: Ideally, your presentation will become your paper for the course. The response and discussion will help you produce the final version. Also, once presentations start I will keep in touch frequently by email to check how the paper is going, and you can come and discuss it with me at any stage.

When you do your presentation, especially if you have a later date, you may have more material than can be presented in 20 minutes. Welcome to a situation which will face you lots of times in your professional life. You will have to present 20 minutes worth of your material that your commentator has read. Don't precis, or hint at, material that your commentator hasn't read. Always play fair with your commentator. Remember that you don't have to present all your ideas in the paper. Save some for the discussion. In fact, nothing is more disappointing than a colloquium where all the ideas are in the paper and the speaker turns out not to have a more developed view to draw on in discussion. So use some judgement as to what, out of your material, you present in your 20 minutes. The final paper will of course be longer.

The final date for the paper is Monday December 14 (exams begin Friday the 9th) EXCEPT THAT Will, Annie and Helen, the last three presenters, can have another week. This gets papers out of the way (for most of you anyway) before exam period begins, with large numbers of exhausting exams to grade.