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Sidgwick’s great work The Methods of Ethics contains a great deal of insightful discussion of virtue and the virtues, though of course Sidgwick’s own ethics could not plausibly be described as a form of virtue ethics. This paper critically discusses in particular his chapter ‘Virtue and Duty’, which provides a preamble to his long and detailed discussion of common-sense morality. Topics covered include: Sidgwick’s distinction between objective and subjective rightness; virtue and duty; supererogation; virtue, action, and emotion; virtuous motivation; the importance of cultivating virtue; moral judgement and codifiability. The paper concludes that Sidgwick failed properly to recognize the role of practical wisdom in an Aristotelian ethics of virtue.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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