Battaly, Heather, and . Developing virtue and rehabilitating vice:Worries about self-cultivation and self-reform

2016, Journal of Moral Education, 45(2): 207-222.

Abstract: Aristotelian virtue theorists have emphasized the role of the self in developing virtue and in rehabilitating vice. But this article argues that, as Aristotelians, we have placed too much emphasis on self-cultivation and self-reform. Self-cultivation is not required for developing virtue or vice. Nor will sophia-inspired self-reform jumpstart change in the vicious person. In each case, the external environment has an important role to play. One can unwittingly acquire virtues or vices from one’s environment. Likewise, a well-designed environment may be the key ingredient for jumpstarting change in the vicious person. Self-cultivation and late-stage self-reform are not ruled out, but the role of the self in character development and rehabilitation is not as exalted as we might have thought.

Comment: This is an interesting article offering a new view on promoting virtue and avoiding vice. Battaly believes that self-cultivation is not a necessary component of virtue. While her view is against most of virtue theories offered in the past, it is well founded and likely to provoke controversy in class.