Virtue Theory

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Course Description: 

What makes a life go well? What kind of person should you aim to be? How ought you to live? This course will look at one influential kind of response to these questions which focuses on the idea of good character or virtue. It will provide an overview of virtue theoretical thinking in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics. Recent decades have witnessed an increasing interest in virtue theory, and a widespread acceptance of it as a viable framework for normative theorising. With this resurgence has come a much-expanded sense of the kinds of question worth asking; ethical questions, for example, are no longer understood to be only those that are about good and right actions, but also those about kindness, justice, and generosity. This course will provide an in-depth study of different forms of virtue theory and explore virtue theory’s potential to help answer concrete normative questions. Students will also consider the extent to which virtue theory is well thought of as a distinctive kind of theorising at all

Learning Outcomes: 

In studying this course, students will:

- Gain a deeper grasp of what virtue theory is, and a conception of what might make it distinctive

- Critically engage with some key debates within virtue theory

- Learn how to use virtue theoretical thinking to explore concrete normative questions


For MA students: In-seminar presentation: 15% Participation: 10% Short writing task: 25% 2500 word final paper due January 5th: 50% For PhD students: In-seminar presentation: 20% Participation: 10% 3000 word final paper due January 5th: 70% Late essays will be penalized unless there are special circumstances warranting an extension. In this case, contact me as soon as possible to request an extension. Students should discuss their final essay title and plan with me.

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