chapter  4
18 Pages

Patterns That Point to Virtue

In his 2002 book, Truth and Truthfulness, philosopher Bernard Williams set forth a complex argument for understanding the idea of truth as resting on two basic virtues: accuracy and sincerity. These, he argued, are nonnegotiable for all successful human social life, even though they take different forms through history and across cultures. It has never been enough for people to simply pretend to care about telling the truth; if that were the case, most all reasons for trusting others fall away. Williams argued that it is only by enshrining truth-telling as a virtue-a stance that other people can regularly rely upon because it becomes regarded as a characteristic of anyone who is known to be or who claims to be virtuous-that truth-telling can contribute to human fl ourishing. Williams’s argument can be extended to virtue in media. Public service as a “calling,” their worldview framed by a belief in universally applied ideas of justice and concern for the welfare of others, their self-identity emphasizing character traits of conscientiousness, a knack for working well with others and openness to different experiences-all appear as key characteristics in the profi le of media exemplars that emerges from descriptive data explored in the previous chapter. The exemplars in this study clearly “cluster” in ways that tell us some important things about their ability to achieve the level of sustained quality they have reached. They also point to key enduring virtues that appear to be inextricably linked to their professional statures-not only virtues of habit, in the Aristotelian sense of the term, but also that some important personal and professional motivations and dispositions-what drives them, what makes them tick-are closely bound up with a notion of professional “fl ourishing,” as Philippa Foot (2001) described virtue in human life.