chapter  2
23 Pages

Hume on the Rarity of Virtue

WithPhilip A. Reed

Influenced by recent work in social psychology, a number of philosophers have argued that virtue ethics is not empirically adequate because empirical studies tend to show that many or most people do not possess the virtues. This criticism has sometimes caused defenders of virtue ethics to identify the extent to which virtue ethics might be committed to the social diffusion of virtue. This chapter examines Hume’s texts to see to what extent his own virtue ethics is committed to the diffusion of virtue. I argue that his account is consistent with results from contemporary social psychology because he believes that virtue is rare.