•  6
    On Learning to be Virtuous
    Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy 25 31-36. 2018.
    On a view derived from Plato and Aristotle, being virtuous involves entrenched, wide-ranging dispositions not only to reason and act, but also to respond and feel. Because affective responses are crucial to being virtuous, Plato and Aristotle thought that it made all the difference how we are brought up. For Aristotle, this is matter of habituation: we learn by doing. What is it that we do when we learn by doing? There is no specific act associated with any virtue, so the answer cannot be that w…Read more
  •  2
    Does Hume Have an Ethics of Virtue?
    The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 11 65-72. 1998.
    I argue that Hume's ethics can be characterized as a virtue ethics, by which I mean a view according to which character has priority over action and the principles governing action: virtuous character guides and constrains practical deliberation. In a traditional utilitarian or Kantian ethics, character is subordinate to practical deliberation: virtue is needed only to motivate virtuous action. I begin by outlining this approach in Aristotle's ethics, then draw relevant parallels to Hume. I argu…Read more
  •  7
    Hume’s Ethics: Ancient or Modern?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3): 215-236. 2000.
    At Treatise 581ff., Hume seems to ground moral distinctions in therational deliberations of the observer, thereby making sentiment expendable.Is Hume then an example of an early modern ethicist, for whom moral distinctions are derived from reason alone? I argue that Hume's use of strategiesfrom ancient ethics can help explain how reason remains subordinate to sentiment.For if to take up the point of view of the judicious spectator we musthave the right constellation of sentiments and passions, t…Read more
  •  14
    Irrationality: An Essay on Akrasia, Self-Deception, and Self-Control (review)
    Philosophical Review 100 (1): 122. 1991.
  •  13
    An Introduction to Greek Ethics
    Philosophical Review 88 (1): 128. 1979.
  •  10
    The Continuous Activity of Ordinary Life
    The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 10 93-97. 2007.
    Aristotle is right to argue that the best life is a life of unimpeded activity, but I believe he went wrong in thinking that ordinary human life is, or must be, far removed from the best life. To establish this claim, I offer a historical explanation of what unimpeded activity involves. I use the class of art patrons in Renaissance Florence to show how mathematical skills acquired in everyday life can be applied to widely differing tasks. As patrons extend their mathematical skills, their activi…Read more
  •  14
    Aristotle on Moral Responsibility
    Philosophical Books 36 (4): 256-258. 1995.
  •  1
    The Pleasure of Virtue in Aristotle's Moral Theory
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 66 (1-2): 93. 1985.
  •  13
    Freedom: A Coherence Theory
    Philosophical Review 103 (2): 383. 1994.
  •  12
  •  12
    Book reviews (review)
    Mind 103 (409): 105-108. 1994.
  •  78
    Virtue and Self-Love in Aristotle's Ethics
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 11 (4). 1981.
    We are often told that there is a striking and important difference between ancient Greek moral philosophy and modern moral philosophy. Whereas the moderns emphasize principles of right action and what a person is obligated to do, ancient moral philosophy is concerned with character and what it is to be a good, that is, a virtuous human being. For the Greeks, virtue was not a matter of making our actions conform to a specific code of conduct or to the moral law. Instead, it was a matter of being…Read more
  •  27
    Hume's ethics: Ancient or modern?
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3). 2000.
    At Treatise 581ff., Hume seems to ground moral distinctions in therational deliberations of the observer, thereby making sentiment expendable.Is Hume then an example of an early modern ethicist, for whom moral distinctions are derived from reason alone? I argue that Hume's use of strategiesfrom ancient ethics can help explain how reason remains subordinate to sentiment.For if to take up the point of view of the judicious spectator we musthave the right constellation of sentiments and passions , …Read more
  •  42
    The Continuous Activity of Ordinary Life
    The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 10 93-97. 2007.
    Aristotle is right to argue that the best life is a life of unimpeded activity, but I believe he went wrong in thinking that ordinary human life is, or must be, far removed from the best life. To establish this claim, I offer a historical explanation of what unimpeded activity involves. I use the class of art patrons in Renaissance Florence to show how mathematical skills acquired in everyday life can be applied to widely differing tasks. As patrons extend their mathematical skills, their activi…Read more
  •  56
    Does Hume Have an Ethics of Virtue?
    The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 7 191-200. 2000.
    I argue that Hume’s ethics can be characterized as a virtue ethics, by which I mean a view according to which character has priority over action and the principles governing action. In a traditional utilitarian or Kantian ethics, character is subordinate to practical deliberation. I first outline this approach in Aristotle’s ethics, then draw parallels to Hume. I argue that virtuous character in Aristotle is understood in terms of “self-love.” A virtuous agent’s self-love enables sizing up pract…Read more