Educating virtues in a plural world: MacIntyre, Williams & Nussbaum on moral education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In this chapter, I consider two different responses to the question of whether the virtues needed for a flourishing life are local or universal in nature. First, MacIntyre, who suggests that if different instantiations of virtue are viewed with historical awareness, certain unities in the concept emerge. Second, Nussbaum, who maintains that virtues are non-relative and that an Aristotle-inspired, historically sensitive essentialism about human nature should inform international public policy. I maintain that MacIntyre’s response is more persuasive than Nussbaum’s, for two reasons. First, in taking essentialist capabilities as the starting point for global policy and action, Nussbaum does not value the traditions, practices, and agency of local communities as MacIntyre does. Second, MacIntyre more convincingly addresses two key challenges posed to Aristotelian ethics by Bernard Williams. I conclude that while Williams rejects the Aristotelian ethics that MacIntyre and Nussbaum broadly endorse, all three thinkers nonetheless share general agreement that ethical dispositions should be cultivated in education in ways whereby the young also learn how to subject the values of their culture to criticism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVirtues and Virtue Education in Theory and Practice
Subtitle of host publicationAre virtues Local or Universal?
EditorsCatherine A Darnell, Kristján Kristjánsson
Place of PublicationLondon and New York
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780429343131
ISBN (Print)9780367356491
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Character and Virtue Education


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