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Review of Unprincipled Virtue An Inquiry Into Moral Agency by Nomy Arpaly
Metapsychology (2005)
  • Matthew Pianalto, Eastern Kentucky University
Disciplines
Publication Date
August 29, 2005
Publisher Statement
What makes an action morally praiseworthy? The Aristotelian recipe tells us that a virtuous action is performed intentionally and willingly, for its own sake, and from a firmly virtuous character. The Kantian account claims that morally praiseworthy actions are those guided by universalizable maxims of action (i.e. principles which pass the Categorical Imperative's test). In both cases, the moral agent appears to be a deliberative and fully rational being, who stands in an unproblematically transparent relationship to her actions and her reasons for action. Throughout Unprincipled Virtue, Nomy Arpaly reminds us that many, if not all, of our actions lack this kind of hyper-rationality, and that moral praiseworthiness needn't hinge on these oversimplified notions of moral agency. Arpaly accomplishes much of her work through diverse examples which aim to show that many of the current and classic accounts of moral praiseworthiness are lacking, because they fail to appreciate the complexities of our moral psychology. Chapters 1 and 2 introduce these issues with discussions of the morality and rationality of complicated characters and cases.
Citation Information
Matthew Pianalto. "Review of Unprincipled Virtue An Inquiry Into Moral Agency by Nomy Arpaly" Metapsychology Vol. 9 Iss. 35 (2005)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthew_pianalto/18/