Sunday, July 2, 2017

Skils vs. Virtues

(Originally written November 28, 2006)

Virtues of the Mind continued...

Every virtue must have a corresponding vice.

Virtues are not faculties or natural capacities. Aristotle calls them "states of character".

Skills, like virtues, are acquired excellences, but the two are not the same.

Aristotle's lack of care in distinguishing virtues from skills has led to subsequent mischief.

Phillippa Foot says skills are merely capacities. Gilbert Meilander states that skills can be unpracticed and retained, but virtue has to be constantly practiced.

James Wallace argues that some skills are not worth having, but virtues always are. Wallace argument only proves that not all skills are virtues, but virtues could still be skills. Wallace also states that skills are mastering techniques to do a different task. Virtues help a person perform difficult tasks, but these tasks are not difficult because they are technically difficult. Wallace argues that a skill can be forgotten, but a virtue cannot. Wallace took his idea from Gilbert Ryle and Aristotle. Wallace also argues that a person without a virtue can act consistently wit that virtue, but a person cannot act consistently with a skill he/she does not have.

Zagzebski argues that advice is the contrary of a virtue, not its contradictory. A skill has no contrary, only a contradictory. A vice is not analogous to a lack of skill in that a vice is not merely a lack of a virtue.

Vice, like virtue, is acquired by habituation.

She also argues that an exercise of skill is not essentially connected to anything valuable, whereas a virtue is essentially connected to something valuable.

Zagzebski maintains there are moral skills and moral virtues, and intellectual skills and intellectual virtues.

Moral virtues often have many skills associated with them.

List of moral virtues/moral skills: pg. 113
List of intellectual virtues/intellectual skills: pg. 114

"There are intellectual skills connected with moral virtues and moral skills connected with intellectual virtues" (Zagzebski, 115).

Virtues are psychically prior to skills because the motivational component of a virtue defines it more than external effectiveness.

Virtues are broader than skills.

von Wright argued that skills are tied to specific activities, whereas there is no essential tie between virtue and a specific activity.

Virtues are strongly connected to Motivational structure.

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