Naturalistic virtue ethics and the new biology

Authored by: Richard Hamilton

The Handbook of Virtue Ethics

Print publication date:  November  2013
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844656394
eBook ISBN: 9781315729053
Adobe ISBN: 9781317544777


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Spinoza ([1677] 1996: 68) famously criticized those who, when writing about human affairs, “treat not of natural things, which follow the common laws of Nature, but of things which are outside Nature”. If a naturalist is someone who endorses this criticism, most Anglo-American philosophers fare naturalists. Ethics, however, represents something of an anomaly, for here the dominant tone is, if not supernaturalist, then decidedly non-naturalistic. The selfsame considerations which prompt philosophers to be naturalistic realists in their metaphysics seem to urge anti-realism in ethics. The dominant image has us projecting our values onto a disenchanted landscape.

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