Transcript: Dr. Thomas Hurka on Vicious Vice. | Feb 17, 2001

A slate with two Doric columns reads "Doctor Thomas Hurka. University of Calgary. 'What makes the vices vicious?'

Thomas Hurka sits at a table in a university classroom and addresses a small audience. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short curly gray hair. He's wearing round glasses, a gray tweed suit, gray shirt, and gray tie.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Doctor Thomas Hurka. University of Calgary. 'What makes the vices vicious?'"

Thomas says THE PAPER I'M GOING TO GIVE
PRESENTS SOME MATERIAL FROM
THE BOOK
VIRTUE, VICE
AND VALUE,
WHICH WAS JUST
PUBLISHED LAST MONTH.
IN THIS BOOK I GIVE AN
ACCOUNT OF VIRTUE AND VICE
THAT IS DIFFERENT FROM THOSE
IN THE VOLUMINOUS RECENT
LITERATURE ON VIRTUE, MOST
OF WHICH FALL UNDER THE
HEADING OF VIRTUE ETHICS.
NOW MOST PHILOSOPHERS, I
THINK HAVE AT LEAST HEARD
OF THE VIRTUE ETHICS.
IT'S A MOVEMENT THAT TOOK
OFF IN THE 1980s AND THAT
ARGUES THAT THE CENTRAL
CONCEPT IN ETHICS SHOULD NOT
BE THAT OF A GOOD STATE
OF AFFAIRS AS IN WHAT ARE
CALLED CONSEQUENTIALIST
MORAL VIEWS, NOR THAT OF
DUTY, AS IN KANTIAN AND
OTHER DEONTOLOGICAL VIEWS,
BUT IT SHOULD INSTEAD BE
THAT OF VIRTUE AND VICE, AND
AMONG THE CENTRAL PROPONENTS
OF VIRTUE ETHICS HAVE BEEN
ELIZABETH ANSCOMBE, WHOSE
OBITUARY SOME OF YOU MAY
HAVE READ IN THE
GLOBE AND
MAIL
A DAY OR TWO AGO.
ELIZABETH ANSCOMBE, PHILIPPA
FOOT, ALASDAIR MACINTYRE,
MICHAEL SLOTE, ROSALIND
HURSTHOUSE, JULIA ANNAS.
A LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE
HAVE BEEN WRITING IN THE
VIRTUE ETHICS TRADITION.
NOW IN THE LAST CHAPTER OF
MY BOOK, I RAISE A SERIES OF
SPECIFIC OBJECTIONS TO
VIRTUE ETHICS, BUT THE
BOOK'S MAIN CHALLENGE TO
THAT POSITION CONSISTS IN
DEVELOPING A POSITIVE
ACCOUNT OF VIRTUE AND VICE
WHICH IS DIFFERENT FROM
ANY VIRTUE ETHICAL ONE AND
SHOWING THAT IT DOES A
BETTER JOB OF EXPLAINING
WHAT VIRTUE AND VICE ARE AND HOW
THEY FIGURE IN MORAL THOUGHT.
AND I'M GOING TO PRESENT
PART OF THAT POSITIVE
ACCOUNT TODAY.
OKAY.
A PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY OF
VIRTUE, LIKE ANY THEORY OF
ANYTHING, SHOULD CONNECT THE
GENERAL AND THE PARTICULAR.
IT SHOULD GIVE A GENERAL
ACCOUNT OF WHAT VIRTUE IS
AND SHOW HOW THAT ACCOUNT
BOTH YIELDS A PLAUSIBLE LIST
OF PARTICULAR VIRTUES AND
ALSO ILLUMINATES THE LIST,
EXPLAINING WHAT THE ITEMS ON IT
HAVE IN COMMON THAT MAKES THEM
VIRTUE AND WHAT DISTINGUISHES
THEM FROM EACH OTHER.
IN MY VIEW, THE ACCOUNTS OF
VIRTUE DEVELOPED IN RECENT
DECADES UNDER THE HEADING
OF VIRTUE ETHICS DON'T MEET
THIS CONDITION.
CONSIDER, FOR INSTANCE,
THE VIEW DEFENDED MOST
PROMINENTLY BY ROSALIND
HURSTHOUSE THAT THE VIRTUES
ARE THOSE TRAITS A PERSON
NEEDS IN ORDER TO FLOURISH
OR LIVE WELL.
IN MY VIEW ITS PROPONENTS
HAVE YET TO DEMONSTRATE WHY
THE VIRTUES SO DEFINED
INCLUDE IN PARTICULAR
BENEVOLENCE, COURAGE AND THE
LIKE, NOR HOW SUPPOSING THEY
DO ENLIGHTENS US
ABOUT THOSE TRAITS.
BUT MY AIM IN THIS
PAPER ISN'T CRITICAL.
IT'S TO SKETCH A DIFFERENT
NON-VIRTUE ETHICAL ACCOUNT
OF VIRTUE AND SHOW THAT IT
DOES CONNECT THE GENERAL
AND THE PARTICULAR.
UNLIKE MOST VIRTUE ETHICAL
ACCOUNTS, THIS ONE DOES NOT
TAKE ITS INSPIRATION FROM
ARISTOTLE OR ANY ANCIENT
PHILOSOPHER.
BUT IT WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED
IN WHAT I THINK WAS A GOLDEN
AGE FOR MORAL THEORY, THE
PERIOD FROM HENRY SIDGWICK
TO W.D. ROSS.
THAT'S ROUGHLY FROM THE
1870s THROUGH THE 1930s, AND
INCLUDING AS DEFENDERS OF
THE ACCOUNT FRANZ BRENTANO,
G.E. MOORE, HASTINGS
RASHTEL AND ROSS HIMSELF.
SINCE MOST OF THESE
PHILOSOPHERS WERE
CONSEQUENTIALISTS THE
ACCOUNT'S CORE CAN FIT IN A
CONSEQUENTIALIST MORAL
THEORY, AND I'LL MOSTLY
DISCUSS THAT CORE.
BUT IT CAN ALSO BE EXTENDED
IN A DEONTOLOGICAL DIRECTION
AND WAS SO BY ROSS.
NOW IT'S OFTEN ASSUMED THAT
A CONSEQUENTIALIST ACCOUNT
HAS TO DEFINE THE VIRTUES AS
TRAITS THAT CAUSE GOOD AND
PREVENT EVIL WHICH MAKES
THEM ONLY INSTRUMENTALLY
GOOD OR GOOD AS MEANS.
BUT CONSEQUENTIALISM CAN
EQUALLY WELL TREAT THE
VIRTUES AS INTRINSICALLY
GOOD AND IT CAN DO SO
ESPECIALLY IF IT DEFINES
THEM BY SOME NON-CAUSAL
RELATION TO GOOD AND EVIL.
THAT'S PRECISELY THE LINE
TAKEN BY BRENTANO, MOORE,
AND THE OTHER PHILOSOPHERS
I'VE MENTIONED ALL OF WHOM
DEFINE THE VIRTUES BY AN
INTENTIONAL RELATION TO
GOODS AND EVILS.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, THEY
DEFINE THE VIRTUES AS HIGHER
LEVEL INTRINSIC GOODS AND
EVILS... SORRY, THE VIRTUES
AS HIGHER LEVEL INTRINSIC
GOODS INVOLVING MORALLY
APPROPRIATE ATTITUDES TO
OTHER GOODS AND EVILS, AND
THE VICES AS HIGHER LEVEL
INTRINSIC EVILS INVOLVING
MORALLY INAPPROPRIATE
ATTITUDES TO GOODS AND EVILS.
THE RESULTING ACCOUNT
IS NOT VIRTUE ETHICAL
FOR SEVERAL REASONS.
IT DOESN'T TREAT VIRTUE AS
THE PRIMARY MORAL CONCEPT
BUT MAKES IT DERIVATIVE FROM
INTRINSIC GOODNESS AND EVIL.
NOR DOES IT USE VIRTUE TO
DETERMINE WHICH ACTIONS ARE
RIGHT, TAKING THOSE STILL TO
BE THE ACTIONS THAT RESULT
IN THE MOST GOOD POSSIBLE.
BUT PARTLY FOR THESE REASONS
IT CONNECTS IN THE RIGHT WAY
TO PARTICULAR
VIRTUES AND VICES.
TO SHOW THIS, I MUST FIRST
SKETCH THE ACCOUNT IN ITS
MOST ATTRACTIVE VERSION.
THE ACCOUNT STARTS WITH FOUR
RECURSION CLAUSES THAT WERE
ACCEPTED BY ALL THE
PHILOSOPHERS I'VE MENTIONED.
FOR THIS REASON, I CALL
IT THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT.
BUT THESE CLAUSES NEED TO
BE AMENDED, EXTENDED AND
SUPPLEMENTED IN WAYS THESE
PHILOSOPHERS DIDN'T CONSIDER.
NOW IF THE VIRTUES AND VICES
ARE ATTITUDES TO OTHER GOODS
AND EVILS, THERE MUST BE
GOODS AND EVILS INDEPENDENT
OF VIRTUE AND VICE.
FOR OUR PURPOSES, IT DOESN'T
MATTER EXACTLY WHAT THESE
ARE, BUT LET'S JUST ASSUME
AS BASE LEVEL VALUES THAT
PLEASURE, KNOWLEDGE
AND ACHIEVEMENT ARE
INTRINSICALLY GOOD, AND
PAIN, FALSE BELIEF AND
FAILURE INTRINSICALLY EVIL.
I MEAN YOU COULD SUBSTITUTE
OTHER LISTS OF BASE LEVEL
GOODS AND EVILS, BUT JUST
ASSUME FOR ILLUSTRATION
PLEASURE, KNOWLEDGE
AND ACHIEVEMENT ARE
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
PAIN, FALSE BELIEF
AND FAILURE ARE EVIL.
THE ACCOUNT THEN ADDS
FOUR RECURSION CLAUSES.
THOSE ARE CLAUSES WHOSE
APPLICATION ITERATES.
IT KEEPS REPEATING.
FOUR RECURSION CLAUSES
SAYING THAT WHENEVER
SOMETHING IS INTRINSICALLY
GOOD OR EVIL, CERTAIN
ATTITUDES TO IT ARE ALSO
INTRINSICALLY GOOD OR EVIL.
THE FIRST OF THESE CLAUSES...
AND THESE ARE ON THE HANDOUT...
CONCERNS THE POSITIVE ATTITUDE
OF LOVING SOMETHING GOOD.
IT SAYS THAT WHENEVER
SOMETHING IS INTRINSICALLY
GOOD, LOVING IT FOR ITSELF...
THAT IS, DESIRING, PURSUING
OR TAKING PLEASURE IN
IT FOR ITSELF... IS ALSO
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
THUS, IF ONE PERSON A'S
PLEASURE IS INTRINSICALLY
GOOD, ANOTHER PERSON B'S
BENEVOLENTLY DESIRING OR
PURSUING A'S PLEASURE AS
AN END IN ITSELF IS ALSO
INTRINSICALLY GOOD, AS IT IS
BENEVOLENTLY TAKING PLEASURE
IN A'S PLEASURE.
AND SINCE THE CLAUSES'
APPLICATION ITERATES OR
RECURS, A THIRD PERSON C
IS TAKING PLEASURE IN B'S
BENEVOLENT DESIRE AS
BENEVOLENT IS LIKEWISE
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
THE SECOND CLAUSE CONCERNS
THE SAME POSITIVE ATTITUDE
OF LOVING BUT NOW
OF SOMETHING EVIL.
IT SAYS THAT WHENEVER
SOMETHING IS INTRINSICALLY
EVIL DESIRING, PURSUING OR
TAKING PLEASURE IN IT FOR
ITSELF IS ALSO
INTRINSICALLY EVIL.
THIS MEANS THAT IF A'S PAIN
IS INTRINSICALLY EVIL, B'S
MALICIOUSLY DESIRING A'S
PAIN AS AN END IN ITSELF IS
EVIL, AS IS B'S OR A THIRD
PARTY'S TAKING PLEASURE IN
B'S MALICIOUS
PLEASURE AS MALICIOUS.
THE FINAL TWO CLAUSES
CONCERN THE OPPOSITE
ATTITUDE OF HATING
SOMETHING FOR ITSELF.
THAT IS, DESIRING OR
PURSUING ITS NON-EXISTENCE
AS AN END IN ITSELF OR BEING
PAINED BY ITS EXISTENCE.
THE THIRD CLAUSE SAYS THAT IF SOMETHING IS
INTRINSICALLY GOOD,
HATING IT FOR ITSELF IS
INTRINSICALLY EVIL, WHILE
THE FOURTH SAYS THAT IF
SOMETHING IS INTRINSICALLY
EVIL, HATING IT FOR ITSELF
IS INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
SO THE THIRD CLAUSE MAKES
PERSON B'S BEING ENVIOUSLY
PAINED BY A'S PLEASURE OR
SEEKING ENVIOUSLY TO DESTROY
A'S PLEASURE EVIL.
CLAUSE FOUR MAKES B'S
SEEKING COMPASSIONATELY TO
RELIEVE A'S PAIN OR BEING
COMPASSIONATELY PAINED BY
A'S PAIN INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
NOW THESE FOUR RECURSION
CLAUSES MAKE APPROPRIATELY
ORIENTED ATTITUDES GOOD, AND
INAPPROPRIATELY ORIENTED
ONES EVIL.
AND THEY YIELD AN ACCOUNT OF
VIRTUE... IF WE SIMPLY DEFINE
THE VIRTUES AND VICES AS
THOSE INTRINSIC GOODS AND
EVILS IDENTIFIED BY THEM...
THAT'S ACTUALLY ON THE BACK
OF THE HANDOUT.
THEN VIRTUE CONSISTS IN
LOVING GOODS AND HATING
EVILS AND VICE IN THE
CONTRARY ATTITUDES OF LOVING
EVILS AND HATING GOODS.
AND THAT ACCOUNT LOOKS TO ME
ON THE RIGHT TRACK BECAUSE
IT MAKES BENEVOLENCE AND
COMPASSION VIRTUES AND
MALICE AND ENVY VICES.
BUT THE ACCOUNT IS EVEN
MORE ATTRACTIVE IF IT'S
ELABORATED IN THREE WAYS.
FIRST, THE FOUR CLAUSES
AS STATED IMPLY THAT THE
INTERMEDIATE ATTITUDE OF
NEITHER LOVING NOR HATING A
GOOD OR EVIL, BUT BEING
INDIFFERENT TO IT HAS
INTERMEDIATE OR ZERO VALUE.
BUT THAT'S NOT TOTALLY
UNACCEPTABLE, BUT I DON'T
FIND IT IN THE END
MOST PLAUSIBLE.
INDIFFERENCE TO ANOTHER
PERSON'S PAIN IS CALLOUSNESS
AND CALLOUSNESS IS NOT JUST
THE ABSENCE OF A VIRTUE BUT
A VICE.
INDIFFERENCE TO GOODS IS
SLOTH OR APATHY, WHICH ARE
ALSO VICES.
SO THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
SHOULD INCLUDE TWO FURTHER
CLAUSES SAYING THAT IF
SOMETHING IS INTRINSICALLY
GOOD OR EVIL, INDIFFERENCE
TO IT FOR ITSELF IS
INTRINSICALLY EVIL.
AND THESE CLAUSES REQUIRE
AMENDMENTS TO TWO OF THE
ORIGINAL RECURSION CLAUSES.
IF COMPLETE INDIFFERENCE TO
ANOTHER PERSON'S PAIN IS
EVIL, SO ON PAIN OF
DISCONTINUITY IS THE VERY
MILDEST HATRED OF IT.
THAT TOO IS A FORM, THOUGH A
LESSER ONE, OF CALLOUSNESS.
MORE GENERALLY, FOR EVERY
VALUE THERE'S A THRESHOLD OR
ZERO VALUE INTENSITY SUCH
THAT ONLY LOVE OR HATRED
ABOVE THAT INTENSITY IS
GOOD, AND LOVE OR HATRED
BELOW IT, THOUGH
APPROPRIATELY ORIENTED, IS NOT.
AND THAT REQUIRES THE
ORIGINAL CLAUSES ABOUT
LOVING GOODS AND HATING
EVILS TO BE AMENDED TO APPLY
ONLY TO ATTITUDES ABOVE
THESE THRESHOLD INTENSITIES.
SO THAT'S THE ADDITION OF THE
CLAUSES ABOUT INDIFFERENCE.
SECOND, THE ACCOUNT MUST BE
EXTENDED TO SPECIFY DEGREES
OF VIRTUE AND VICE, OR
DEGREES OF VIRTUE OF
GOODNESS AND EVIL IN
VIRTUOUS AND VICIOUS ATTITUDES.
THOUGH MANY ATTITUDES ARE
VIRTUOUS AND VICIOUS,
CLEARLY SOME ARE
MORE SO THAN OTHERS.
AND SOME ATTITUDES ARE
MORE VICIOUS THAN OTHERS.
TWO OBVIOUSLY RELEVANT
FACTORS HERE ARE AN
ATTITUDE'S INTENSITY... HOW
INTENSELY ONE DESIRES,
PURSUES OR IS PLEASED BY AN
OBJECT, AND THE DEGREE OF
VALUE OF THAT OBJECT.
SO THE ACCOUNT MUST SHOW
HOW AN ATTITUDE'S DEGREE OF
VALUE DEPENDS ON THESE TWO
FACTORS, AND IN DOING SO IT
SHOULD ALSO SATISFY A FURTHER
CONDITION OF PROPORTIONALITY.
SINCE WE HUMANS CAN'T
LOVE ALL GOOD THINGS WITH
INFINITE INTENSITY, THE
QUESTION ARISES OF HOW BEST
TO DEFINE OUR LIMITED
LOVE AMONG GOOD THINGS.
AND THE OBVIOUS ANSWER IS
IN PROPORTION TO THE GOOD
THINGS DEGREES OF GOODNESS.
SO IF ONE GOOD IS TWICE AS
GREAT AS ANOTHER, IT'S BEST
TO LOVE THE FIRST TWICE AS
INTENSELY AS THE SECOND.
FOR EXAMPLE, TO BE
TWICE AS PLEASED BY IT
AS BY THE SECOND.
NOW IN MY VIEW, THE MOST
ATTRACTIVE VIEW SATISFYING
THESE CONDITIONS IS WHAT
I CALL AN ASYMPTOTIC VIEW.
IT SAYS THAT ALTHOUGH A MORE
INTENSE APPROPRIATE ATTITUDE IS
ALWAYS INTRINSICALLY
BETTER, THE VALUE OF
INCREASES IN ITS INTENSITY
IS NOT CONSTANT BUT GETS
SMALLER AS THE ATTITUDE'S
INTENSITY INCREASES, AND IN
FACT, DIMINISHES
ASYMPTOTICALLY TOWARDS ZERO.
THIS VIEW IS BEST
REPRESENTED ON A GRAPH WHERE
THE HORIZONTAL AXIS MEASURES
THE INTENSITY OF AN ATTITUDE,
EITHER POSITIVE FOR LOVING
OR NEGATIVE FOR HATING.
THE VERTICAL AXIS MEASURES
VALUE AND EACH CURVE SHOWS
HOW THE VALUE OF AN ATTITUDE
IS A FUNCTION OF ITS
INTENSITY GIVEN A FIXED
DEGREE OF VALUE IN ITS
OBJECT, AND THAT'S THE GRAPH
THAT'S ON THE HANDOUT.
NOW I SHOULD SAY THAT THERE
ARE LOT OF PHILOSOPHERS WHO
THINK THAT USING
MATHEMATICAL CONCEPTS TO
ANALYZE ETHICAL IDEAS IS A
FUNDAMENTAL ERROR AND A LOT
OF THESE PEOPLE WOULD THINK
THAT USING A GRAPH TO
REPRESENT, OF ALL THINGS,
VIRTUE, IS ABOUT THE MOST
PHILOSOPHICALLY IDIOTIC
THING ANYONE COULD DO.
BUT ALL I CAN SAY IS
WELL, LET'S TAKE A LOOK.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE GRAPH...
BY THE WAY, SOME PEOPLE JUST
CAN'T... GRAPHS DON'T MEAN
ANYTHING TO THEM AND IF THIS
DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING TO
YOU, IT DOESN'T REALLY
MATTER FOR THE
REST OF THE PAPER.
BUT AS I SAID, THE
HORIZONTAL AXIS... THE
VERTICAL AXIS IS VALUE.
THE HORIZONTAL AXIS IS THE
INTENSITY OF AN ATTITUDE
WITH POSITIVE ATTITUDES OF
LOVING TO THE RIGHT, AND
NEGATIVE ATTITUDES OF
HATING TO THE LEFT.
NOW TAKE A LOOK AT THE
CURVES REPRESENTING
ATTITUDES TO OBJECTS THAT
ARE EVIL, THOSE WITH THE
VALUES NEGATIVE M,
NEGATIVE 2M, NEGATIVE 4M.
THEY START IN THE TOP LEFT
OF THE GRAPH, WHICH MAKES
SENSE BECAUSE NEGATIVE
ATTITUDES TO NEGATIVE VALUES...
FOR EXAMPLE, COMPASSIONATE
PAIN FOR ANOTHER PERSON'S
PAIN ARE GOOD.
AND THE CURVE ENDS IN THE
BOTTOM RIGHT, WHICH ALSO
MAKES SENSE BECAUSE POSITIVE
ATTITUDES TO NEGATIVE VALUES...
SO PLEASURE, MALICIOUS
PLEASURE IN SOMEBODY ELSE'S
PAIN IS EVIL.
AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE
CURVES FOR OBJECTS WITH
POSITIVE VALUE, M2M, M4M,
THEY START IN THE BOTTOM LEFT
BECAUSE NEGATIVE ATTITUDES
TO POSITIVE VALUES... BEING
PAIN BY SOME... ENVIOUSLY
PAINED BY SOMEBODY ELSE'S
PLEASURE ARE EVIL WHEREAS
POSITIVE ATTITUDES TO
POSITIVE VALUE, SUCH AS
DESIRING SOMEBODY ELSE'S
PLEASURE AS AN END IN ITSELF
BENEVOLENTLY, ARE GOOD.
AND IF YOU NOTICE, THE CURVE
THE GRAPH HAS BEEN DRAWN
TO INCORPORATE THE IDEA THAT
INDIFFERENCE IS BAD BECAUSE
THE CURVES CUT THE VERTICAL
AXIS BELOW THE ORIGIN.
SO ZERO ON THE SCALE
OF INTENSITY, WHICH IS
INDIFFERENCE, HAS
NEGATIVE VALUE.
SO CALLOUSNESS IS EVIL AND
SLOTH AND APATHY ARE EVIL.
AND YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE MY
WORD ABOUT IT, THE SHAPES
AND THE SPACING OF THE
CURVES SATISFY THE
PROPORTIONALITY IDEA.
THE IDEA THAT, YOU KNOW,
WHAT'S BEST IS CARING...
AS MUCH MORE ABOUT GREATER
GOODS AND EVILS AS THEY
ARE GREATER.
SO, FOR EXAMPLE, FEELING
TWICE AS MUCH COMPASSION FOR
PAIN THAT IS TWICE AS GREAT.
SO ANYWAYS, THAT IS, I
THINK, A COMPLETE VIEW OF
THE VALUE OF
INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDES.
HOWEVER, IT'S NOT A COMPLETE
VIEW OF VIRTUE AND VICE
IN GENERAL.
THAT'S BECAUSE THERE ARE
SOME JUDGMENTS ABOUT
PROPORTIONALITY THAT THIS
APPROACH CAN'T CAPTURE AND
THAT CALL FOR A DIFFERENT
MORE HOLISTIC PRINCIPLE.
I MEAN IMAGINE THAT
SOMEBODY'S EXTREMELY
SELFISH, CARING MUCH MORE
ABOUT HIS OWN MINOR PLEASURES
THAN ABOUT MUCH GREATER
PLEASURES OF OTHER PEOPLE.
THE DISPROPORTION IN HIS
ATTITUDES MAKES FOR AT LEAST
A LOSS OF INTRINSIC GOODNESS
IN HIS ATTITUDES OR FOR WHAT
I'LL CALL A SHORTFALL
IN HIS VIRTUE.
BUT DOES IT ALSO MAKE MORE
STRONGLY FOR INTRINSIC EVIL
OR VICE?
INTUITIVELY IT SHOULD.
THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
MAKES A MILD DESIRE FOR
OR INDIFFERENCE TO ANOTHER
PERSON'S MINOR PAIN EVIL.
AND IF THESE PETTY FORMS OF
MALICE AND CALLOUSNESS ARE
VICES, SURELY EXTREME
SELFISHNESS CAN LIKEWISE BE
A VICE.
BUT THE ACCOUNT AS
FORMULATED TO THIS POINT
CAN'T YIELD THIS JUDGMENT.
IF THE PERSON'S MILD LOVE OF
OTHER PEOPLE'S PLEASURE IS
ABOVE THE THRESHOLD
INTENSITY, AS IT EASILY CAN BE,
THEN THAT LOVE IS
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
AND HIS INTENSE LOVE OF
HIS OWN PLEASURE IS ALSO
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
BUT THEN HIS COMBINATION
OF ATTITUDES INVOLVES TWO
COMPONENTS, EACH OF WHICH IS
GOOD, MAKING HIS ATTITUDES
ON BALANCE GOOD.
EVEN EXTREME SELFISHNESS IS AT
MOST A SHORTFALL IN VIRTUE.
NOW TO HOLD MORE STRONGLY
THAT EXTREME SELFISHNESS IS
A VICE THE ACCOUNT MUST BE
SUPPLEMENTED BY A HOLISTIC
PRINCIPLE EVALUATING
COMBINATIONS OF ATTITUDES AS
COMBINATIONS OR IN LIGHT
OF THE RELATIONS AMONG
THEIR COMPONENTS.
MORE SPECIFICALLY, IT
MUST ADD A HOLISTIC
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE
SAYING THAT ANY
DISPROPORTION IN A PERSON'S
DIVISION OF CONCERNS BETWEEN
VALUES IS AS THAT DISPROPORTION
INTRINSICALLY EVIL.
WITH THIS HOLISTIC EVIL TO
BE ADDED TO THE VALUES OF
HIS INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDES
CONSIDERED ON THEIR OWN.
IF A COMBINATION OF
ATTITUDES IS PERFECTLY
PROPORTIONED THIS PRINCIPLE
FINDS NO EVIL IN IT, AND THE
COMBINATION'S VALUE EQUALS
AS BEFORE THE SUM OF ITS
COMPONENTS' VALUES.
ONCE THERE IS A
DISPROPORTION HOWEVER, THE
PRINCIPAL FINDS THIS A
SEPARATE INTRINSIC EVIL, AND
WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THIS
EVIL TO BE GREATER WHEN THE
DISPROPORTION IS GREATER.
SO DEPARTING SIGNIFICANTLY
FROM PROPORTIONALITY IS
WORSE THAN DEPARTING
ONLY A LITTLE.
THIS MEANS THAT MILD
SELFISHNESS OR LOVING ONE'S
OWN PLEASURE JUST A LITTLE
MORE THAN OTHER PEOPLE'S
INVOLVES ONLY A SMALL
HOLISTIC EVIL WHEREAS
EXTREME SELFISHNESS
INVOLVES A GREAT EVIL.
AND THIS IN TURN MEANS THAT
THE FORMER COMBINATION OF
ATTITUDES CAN BE ON BALANCE
GOOD, WHILE THE LATTER IS ON
BALANCE EVIL.
IF A PERSON'S ONLY MILDLY
SELFISH, THE EVIL THE
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE
FINDS IN THE DISPROPORTION
BETWEEN HIS LOVES IS FAIRLY
SMALL AND CAN BE OUTWEIGHED
BY THE GOODNESS THEY
HAVE ON THEIR OWN.
AS THE SELFISHNESS BECOMES
MORE EXTREME, HOWEVER, THE
HOLISTIC EVIL INCREASES UNTIL
ITS COMBINATION OF ATTITUDES
IS ON BALANCE EVIL.
AND I FIND THAT AN
ATTRACTIVE RESULT.
IT'S ATTRACTIVE, I FIND, TO
HOLD THAT MILD SELFISHNESS
IS ON BALANCE ONLY A
SHORTFALL IN VIRTUE
CONSISTENT WITH HAVING
ATTITUDES THAT ARE ON
BALANCE GOOD WHILE EXTREME
SELFISHNESS IS A VICE.
AND THE RESULT FOLLOWS
IF THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
EVALUATES COMBINATIONS OF
ATTITUDES, BY WEIGHING
AGAINST EACH OTHER, THE EVIL
FOUND IN THEM BY A HOLISTIC
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE
AND THE VALUES FOUND IN
THEIR COMPONENTS BY AN
ASYMPTOTIC VIEW OF
INDIVIDUAL ATTITUDES.
THAT WAS THE ONE
ON THE GRAPH.
OKAY.
THAT COMPLETES MY FOUR
STAGE DEVELOPMENT.
I HOPE NOT TOO PASTY OF
THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT.
I BEGAN WITH FOUR RECURSION
CLAUSES MAKING THE MORALLY
APPROPRIATE ATTITUDES OF
LOVING GOODS AND HATING
EVILS VIRTUOUS AND GOOD AND
THE CONTRARY ATTITUDES OF
LOVING EVILS AND HATING
GOODS VICIOUS AND EVIL.
I THEN AMENDED THESE CLAUSES
TO MAKE INDIFFERENCE IN
ATTITUDES CLOSE TO IT EVIL,
EXTENDED THEM TO ASSIGN
DEGREES OF VALUE TO
ATTITUDES IN SUCH A WAY THAT
PROPORTIONAL DIVISIONS
ARE BEST, AND FINALLY
SUPPLEMENTED THEM BY A HOLISTIC
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE.
THE ACCOUNT COULD BE
ELABORATED FURTHER, FOR
EXAMPLE, TO INCLUDE
DEONTOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS.
IT CAN HOLD THAT LOVING
RIGHT ACTIONS BECAUSE
THEY'RE RIGHT OR FOR THE
PROPERTIES THAT MAKE THEM SO
IS VIRTUOUS AND GOOD EVEN
WHEN THESE ACTIONS DON'T
RESULT IN THE
MOST OTHER GOODS.
BUT THERE'S ENOUGH
TO DISCUSS IN THE
CONSEQUENTIALIST CORE OF THE
ACCOUNT AS I'VE DEVELOPED IT
SO FAR.
NOW THIS ACCOUNT MAKES MANY
PLAUSIBLE GENERAL CLAIMS
ABOUT VIRTUES.
IT CAPTURES THE WIDESPREAD
VIEW THAT THE VIRTUES ARE IN
SOME WAY DESIRABLE STATES,
AND DOES SO BY HOLDING MORE
SPECIFICALLY THAT THEY'RE
INTRINSICALLY GOOD.
IT ALSO DISTINGUISHES THE
VIRTUES FROM OTHER GOODS
SUCH AS PLEASURE AND
KNOWLEDGE THAT ARE NOT
HIGHER LEVEL GOODS, BECAUSE
THEY DON'T INVOLVE ATTITUDES
TO OTHER GOODS AND EVILS.
THE ACCOUNT ALSO
SUCCESSFULLY CONNECTS ITS
GENERAL CLAIMS TO MORE
PARTICULAR ONES IN THE WAYS
DESCRIBED AT THE BEGINNING
OF THIS PAPER, YIELDING
PLAUSIBLE LISTS OF
INDIVIDUAL VIRTUES AND VICES
AND EXPLAINING WHAT UNITES
THEM AND DISTINGUISHES THEM.
NOW SPACE DOESN'T PERMIT ME
TO DEMONSTRATE THIS FOR BOTH
THE VIRTUES AND VICES, SO LET
ME CONCENTRATE ON THE VICES.
THEY'RE EASIER TO DISCUSS
THAN THE VIRTUES AND I HOPE
IT'S NOT VICIOUS TO SAY
THIS, THEY'RE ALSO MORE FUN.
NOW THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
HOLDS THAT ALL THE VICES
INVOLVED MORALLY
INAPPROPRIATE ATTITUDES TO
OTHER LOWER LEVEL
GOODS AND EVILS.
IT THEREFORE GIVES A UNIFIED
ACCOUNT OF VICE BUT ONE THAT
ACCOMMODATES A WIDE VARIETY
OF DIFFERENT VICES.
FOR EXAMPLE, IT RECOGNIZES
BOTH SELF-REGARDING AND
OTHER REGARDING VICES.
THE SELF-REGARDING VICES
INVOLVE INAPPROPRIATE
ATTITUDES TO GOODS OR EVILS
IN ONESELF, THE OTHER
REGARDING VICES TO GOODS
OR EVILS OF OTHER PEOPLE.
BUT BOTH TYPES OF VICE
INVOLVE ATTITUDES TO SOME
PERSON'S GOOD OR EVIL.
THE ACCOUNT ALSO RECOGNIZES
BOTH VICES WITH BASE LEVEL
OBJECTS SUCH AS PLEASURE,
PAIN AND KNOWLEDGE, AND
HIGHER LEVEL VICES WHOSE
OBJECTS ARE THEMSELVES FORMS
OF VIRTUE AND VICE.
AND CUTTING ACROSS THESE
DIVISIONS, IT RECOGNIZES
THREE CATEGORIES OF VICE
THAT I CALL PURE VICES,
VICES OF INDIFFERENCE AND
VICES OF DISPROPORTION.
THESE CATEGORIES OF VICE ALL
INVOLVE ATTITUDES THAT ARE
INTRINSICALLY EVIL BUT IN
EACH CASE THE ATTITUDES ARE
MADE EVIL BY A DIFFERENT
PART OF THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT.
SO LET ME CONSIDER THESE
CATEGORIES IN TURN.
NOW THE PURE VICES INVOLVE
AN ATTITUDE THAT IS
INAPPROPRIATELY ORIENTED.
THAT IS, THEY INVOLVE EITHER
LOVE OF AN EVIL OR HATRED OF
A GOOD.
THEY'RE THEREFORE MADE EVIL
BY THE INITIAL RECURSION
CLAUSES, OR MORE
SPECIFICALLY, BY THE SECOND
AND THIRD OF THEM.
SO MALICE IS A PURE VICE.
IN FACT, THE CENTRAL OTHER
REGARDING PURE VICE.
A MALICIOUS PERSON DESIRES,
PURSUES OR TAKES PLEASURE IN
ANOTHER PERSON'S EVIL, FOR
EXAMPLE, IN HER PAIN OR
FALSE BELIEF FOR ITS OWN
SAKE OR DESIRES FOR ITS OWN
SAKE TO DESTROY
ANOTHER'S GOOD.
HIS ATTITUDE HAS THE
CONTRARY ORIENTATION TO ONE
THAT IS VIRTUOUS AND
IS THEREFORE SIMPLY
AND PURELY VICIOUS.
A MALICIOUS PERSON NEED NOT
DESIRE ANOTHER'S PAIN AS
SOMETHING EVIL.
IT MAY BE IMPOSSIBLE TO
DESIRE AN OBJECT AS EVIL.
BUT HE CAN DESIRE FOR PAIN
AS PAIN, WANTING AS AN END
IN ITSELF THAT YOU SUFFER OR
HE CAN TAKE PLEASURE IN HER
PAIN AS PAIN.
THEN HE LOVES SOMETHING EVIL
FOR THE VERY PROPERTY THAT
MAKES IT EVIL, WHICH MAKES
HIS LOVE VICIOUS BY THE
SECOND RECURSION CLAUSE.
THERE ARE OTHER MORE SPECIFIC
OTHER REGARDING PURE VICES.
ONE IS ANGER, AT LEAST WHEN
IT INVOLVES, AS INTENSE
ANGER OFTEN DOES, A DESIRE
TO STRIKE OUT AT ANOTHER
PERSON OR IN SOME
WAY CAUSE HER PAIN.
SUCH ANGER IS A SPECIFIC FORM OF
MALICE DISTINGUISHED BOTH BY
ITS CAUSE, A BELIEF THAT THE
OTHER IS MISTREATED ONE, AND
BY ITS HIGH INTENSITY
AND SHORT DURATION.
OTHER FORMS OF MALICE
INCLUDE SCHADENFREUDE, OR
PLEASURE AT THE MISFORTUNES
OF OTHER, AND SADISM WHERE
ONE ENJOYS BOTH ANOTHER'S
PAIN AND THE PROCESS OF
INFLICTING IT.
THERE ARE ALSO
SELF-REGARDING PURE VICES
SUCH AS SELF-HATRED
AND MASOCHISM.
IF THE ACCOUNT'S BASE LEVEL
VALUES INCLUDES STATES OF
ALL PEOPLE, IT MAKES
DESIRING ONE'S OWN PAIN AND
HATING ONE'S OWN PLEASURE IN
KNOWLEDGE EVIL IN THE SAME
WAYS AS THE COMPARABLE
ATTITUDES TO OTHER PEOPLE'S.
IN BOTH CASES ONE IS WRONGLY
ORIENTED TO A BASE LEVEL VALUE.
SO SELF-HATRED, TOO,
IS A PURE VICE.
OF COURSE SELF-HATRED
AND MASOCHISM CAN BE
INSTRUMENTALLY EVIL IF THEY
CAUSE THEIR SUBJECTS PAIN,
BUT THEY ARE ALSO
DISFIGURING IN THEMSELVES.
SOMEONE WHO INJURES HIMSELF
OUT OF SELF-HATRED IS
IN A WORSE STATE OVERALL
THAN IF THE SAME INJURY
BEFELL HIM ACCIDENTALLY.
NOW THESE INITIAL PURE VICES
ARE DIRECTED AT BASE LEVEL
VALUES SUCH AS PLEASURE,
PAIN AND KNOWLEDGE,
BUT THERE ARE ALSO HIGHER
LEVEL PURE VICES.
A PERSON WHO ACTS
MALICIOUSLY CAN ALSO LOVE
HIS OWN MALICE, DESIRING AND
TAKING PLEASURE IN THE FACT
THAT HE SEEKS OTHER'S PAIN
FOR ITSELF AND WANTS TO
DESTROY THEIR PLEASURE.
THIS HIGHER LEVEL PURE VICE...
LET ME JUST LABEL IT MORAL
DEPRAVITY... SEEMS AN
ESSENTIAL PART OF
COMPLETE VICIOUSNESS.
STOCK FICTIONAL VILLAINS
SUCH AS THE JOKER IN THE
MOVIE
BATMAN
-- I'M SORRY.
THIS IS KIND OF A DATED
CULTURAL REFERENCE, BUT
THE JOKER IS PLAYED BY
JACK NICHOLSON IN THE
ORIGINAL
BATMAN
MOVIE.
FICTIONAL VILLAINS LIKE
HIM COMBINE MALICE TOWARDS
OTHERS WITH DELIGHT
IN THEIR OWN MALICE.
THEY CACKLE AS THEY
PERFORM THEIR NASTY DEEDS.
THEY ALSO DELIGHT IN THE
MALICE OF OTHERS, SUCH AS
THEIR CORRUPT UNDERLINGS
AND HATE THE COMPASSION,
BENEVOLENCE AND OTHER
VIRTUES OF THE HEROES
THEY BATTLE.
IN THE MOST TOTAL MORAL
DEPRAVITY REPRESENTED BY
SATAN, A VILLAIN NOT ONLY
LOVES HIS OWN VICE BUT WANTS
TO PROPAGATE IT BY
CORRUPTING OTHER
PEOPLE'S CHARACTERS.
AND THIS TOTAL DEPRAVITY
COMBINES AN INITIAL PURE
VICE OF MALICE WITH HIGHER
LEVEL PURE VICES THAT EXTEND
UP THE HIERARCHY OF
ATTITUDES AND ENCOMPASS ALL
PEOPLE FOR A MAXIMUM OF PURELY
VICIOUS LOVE AND HATE.
A MORE SUBTLE PURE
VICE IS CYNICISM.
A CYNIC BELIEVES THE WORLD
AND PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE LESS
GOOD THAN THEY ARE COMMONLY
TAKEN TO BE AND LET US
ASSUME ACTUALLY ARE.
HIS CYNICISM CAN CONCERN
BASE LEVEL GOODS SUCH AS
PLEASURE AND KNOWLEDGE,
WHICH HE BELIEVES ARE
ONLY RARELY FOUND.
BUT ITS MORE COMMON
SUBJECT IS VIRTUE.
SO HE BELIEVES THAT PEOPLE
ARE LESS VIRTUOUS AND MORE
PRONE TO VICE THAN
IN FACT THEY ARE.
NOW THIS UNDERVALUING OF
EXISTING GOODS IS NOT ITSELF
A VICE, THOUGH IT INVOLVES
THE NON-MORAL EVIL
OF FALSE BELIEF.
BUT IN CYNICISM, IT
HAS A VICIOUS ORIGIN.
A CYNIC WANTS PEOPLE
NOT TO BE GOOD.
HE IN THAT SENSE HATES GOOD
AND PERSUADES HIMSELF BY
WISHFUL THINKING OR
SELF-DECEPTION THAT
THEY'RE EVIL.
FOR EXAMPLE, HE WANTS PEOPLE
NOT TO BE BENEVOLENT AND
CONCLUDES AGAINST ANY
EVIDENCE THAT THEY'RE AT
BOTTOM SELFISH.
HIS CYNICAL BELIEF ISSUES
FROM A PURELY VICIOUS
ATTITUDE AND THEREFORE
ITSELF REFLECTS PURE VICE.
NOW THIS ANALYSIS FITS THE
OED DEFINITION OF A CYNIC AS
ONE WHO, QUOTE, DOUBTS OR
DESPISES HUMAN SINCERITY OR
MERIT, THOUGH IT ADDS THAT
THE DOUBTING FOLLOWS FROM
THE DESPISING, AND IT CAN
BE CONFIRMED BY CONTRASTING
CYNICISM WITH PESSIMISM.
A PESSIMIST, TOO, BELIEVES THE
WORLD IS LESS GOOD THAN IT IS,
BUT PESSIMISM ISN'T
CYNICISM, AND WE REACT TO
THE TWO VERY DIFFERENTLY.
THAT'S BECAUSE PESSIMISM
DOESN'T ISSUE FROM A
VICIOUS ATTITUDE.
THOUGH THE PESSIMIST
BELIEVES THE WORLD IS EVIL,
HE WISHES IT WERE GOOD AND
FEELS GLOOM BECAUSE IT IS NOT.
HENCE OUR SYMPATHY FOR HIM
AS AGAINST OUR RESENTMENT OF
THE CYNIC WHOSE BELIEF IS
NOT ACCOMPANIED BY LOVE OF
THE GOOD BUT EXPRESSES
HATRED OF IT.
NOW AS A CATEGORY, OR
HOLDING THE VALUES OF THEIR
OBJECTS FIXED, THE PURE
VICES ARE THE WORST AMONG
THE VICES.
IN BOTH THEIR SELF-REGARDING
AND OTHER REGARDING FORMS,
AND WITH BASE OR HIGHER
LEVEL OBJECTS, THEY'RE MOST
SIMPLY AND THOROUGHLY EVIL.
THE SECOND CATEGORY, THE
VICES OF INDIFFERENCE, ARE
AS A CLASS LESS EVIL.
THEY INVOLVE NOT A
POSITIVELY INAPPROPRIATE
ORIENTATION TO A GOOD OR
EVIL, BUT THE ABSENCE, AT
LEAST TO A THRESHOLD
INTENSITY OF AN APPROPRIATE ONE.
THEY'RE THEREFORE MADE
EVIL BY THE CLAUSES ABOUT
INDIFFERENCE INTRODUCED IN
THE SECOND STAGE OF THE
RECURSIVE ACCOUNT.
CALLOUSNESS OR CARING NOT AT
ALL OR INSUFFICIENTLY ABOUT
ANOTHER'S PAIN IS AN
OTHER REGARDING VICE OF
INDIFFERENCE, IN THIS CASE
OF INDIFFERENCE TO EVIL.
SO, TOO, THOUGH THEY
LACK SPECIAL NAMES, ARE
INDIFFERENCE TO ANOTHER
PERSON'S FALSE BELIEFS OR TO
OUR FAILURES IN
IMPORTANT PROJECTS.
REMAINING UNMOVED BY THESE
HARMS IS VICIOUS IN THE SAME
WAY AS INDIFFERENCE
TO ANOTHER'S PAIN.
THERE ARE ALSO VICES OF
INDIFFERENCE TO GOOD,
INCLUDING APATHY AND SLOTH.
THOUGH THESE TWO VICES ARE
CLOSELY CONNECTED, THEY CAN
PERHAPS BE DISTINGUISHED
AS FOLLOWS.
AN APATHETIC PERSON IS MOVED
NOT AT ALL BY THE THOUGHT OF
GOODS ATTAINABLE BY ACTION.
A SLOTHFUL PERSON IS MOVED A
LITTLE, BUT NOT ENOUGH FOR
HIS CONCERN TO REACH THE
THRESHOLD INTENSITY FOR
VIRTUOUS LOVE AND CERTAINLY NOT
ENOUGH TO MOVE HIM TO ACTION.
IN THE ONE CASE THERE'S
TOTAL INDIFFERENCE TO GOODS,
IN THE OTHER WOEFULLY
INADEQUATE CONCERN FOR THEM.
THE VICES OF INDIFFERENCE
ALSO HAVE HIGHER LEVEL FORMS
SUCH AS SHAMELESSNESS.
A PERSON WHO'S ACTED FROM AN
EVIL OR AN INSUFFICIENTLY
GOOD MOTIVE SHOULD FEEL
PAIN, AND MORE PARTICULARLY,
SHAME ABOUT THIS FACT.
IF HE DOES NOT, BUT IS
SHAMELESS ABOUT WHAT HE'S
DONE, HE EXHIBITS A HIGHER
LEVEL VICE INVOLVING
INDIFFERENCE TO A
HIGHER LEVEL EVIL.
HE'S LIKEWISE SHAMELESS IF
HE'S IN NO WAY PAINED BY AN
EVIL DESIRE OR FEELING.
SHAMELESSNESS IS NOT AS
GREAT A VICE AS THE DELIGHT
IN MORAL EVIL THAT I
CALLED MORAL DEPRAVITY.
IN FACT, SHAMELESSNESS
STANDS TO DEPRAVITY AS
CALLOUSNESS
STANDS TO MALICE.
IT INVOLVES THE ABSENCE OF
HATRED FOR AN EVIL RATHER
THAN WHAT IS MORE VICIOUS,
POSITIVE LOVE OF IT.
BUT SHAMELESSNESS IS STILL A
HIGHER LEVEL VICE, THOUGH IN
THE LESSER CATEGORY OF
VICES OF INDIFFERENCE.
CALLOUSNESS, APATHY AND
SHAMELESSNESS INVOLVE
INDIFFERENCE TO A GOOD OR
EVIL ONE IS AWARE OF, BUT
OTHER VICES OF INDIFFERENCE
INVOLVE NOT BOTHERING
TO BE AWARE.
THOUGHTLESSNESS
IS ONE SUCH VICE.
A THOUGHTLESS PERSON DOES
THINGS THAT HARM OTHER
PEOPLE BECAUSE HE DOESN'T
TAKE TIME TO CONSIDER HIS
ACTIONS, CONSEQUENCES
IN ADVANCE.
HIS ATTITUDE ISN'T AS EVIL
AS THAT OF SOMEONE WHO KNOWS
HIS ACTION WILL HARM OTHERS
AND CALLOUSLY PERFORMS IT
ANYWAYS, BUT IF HE CARED
SERIOUSLY ABOUT AVOIDING
HARMS, HE'D SCRUTINIZE HIS
ACTIONS MORE CAREFULLY AND
HIS FAILURE TO
DO SO IS A VICE.
AS CYNICISM IS A COGNITIVE
EXPRESSION OF MALICE, SO
THOUGHTLESSNESS IS A
COGNITIVE EXPRESSION
OF INDIFFERENCE.
A HIGHER LEVEL FORM OF
THOUGHTLESSNESS IS SMUGNESS
OR MORAL SELF-SATISFACTION.
A SMUG PERSON IS SATISFIED
THAT HIS MORAL CHARACTER IS
GOOD BECAUSE HE HASN'T
SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED THE
POSSIBILITY THAT IT'S NOT.
BECAUSE HIS FAVOURABLE
SELF-ASSESSMENT REFLECTS A
LACK OF GENUINE CONCERN FOR
THE GOODS OF CHARACTER,
IT, TOO, IS A VICE
OF INDIFFERENCE.
NOW SOME VICES STRADDLE THE
DIVISION BETWEEN PURE VICES
AND VICES OF INDIFFERENCE.
CONSIDER CRUELTY.
DEFINED BY THE OED AS A
DISPOSITION TO INFLICT
SUFFERING WITH EITHER,
QUOTE, DELIGHT IN OR
INDIFFERENCE TO,
ANOTHER'S PAIN.
IF CRUELTY INVOLVES DELIGHT
IN PAIN, IT'S A PURE VICE.
IF IT INVOLVES ONLY CALLOUS
INDIFFERENCE, IT'S A VICE
OF INDIFFERENCE.
A SIMILAR ANALYSIS
APPLIES TO HYPOCRISY.
IN ONE FORM OF THIS VICE
A PERSON KNOWS HIS MORAL
CHARACTER IS NOT AS HE
PUBLICLY PRESENTS IT TO BE.
I GUESS THAT'S THE CASE OF
TARTUFFE AND... IS IT JOSEPH
SURFACE IN
A SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL?
BUT THE LITERARY HYPOCRITES
TEND TO BE PEOPLE WHO KNOW
THAT THEIR CHARACTERS AREN'T
AS THEY PRESENT THEM TO BE.
IF THIS TYPE OF CHARACTER
TAKES PLEASURE IN HIS VICE,
OR IN OTHER PEOPLE'S FALSE
BELIEFS ABOUT IT, HIS
HYPOCRISY IS A PURE VICE.
IF HE'S MERELY UNCONCERNED
ABOUT THESE EVILS. IT'S A
VICE OF INDIFFERENCE.
IN ANOTHER PERHAPS MORE
COMMON FORM OF HYPOCRISY A
PERSON DECEIVES HIMSELF INTO
BELIEVING HIS CHARACTER IS
INDEED GOOD.
HERE AGAIN HE'S INDIFFERENT
TO HIS OWN VICE AND IN THIS
CASE TO HIS OWN
FALSE BELIEF.
THE THIRD CATEGORY OF VICES,
THE VICES OF DISPROPORTION
INVOLVE TWO OR MORE
ATTITUDES, BOTH OF WHICH ARE
APPROPRIATELY ORIENTED AND
ABOVE THE THRESHOLD INTENSITY.
SO THAT ON THEIR
OWN THEY'RE GOOD.
BUT THESE ATTITUDES'
INTENSITIES ARE SO OUT OF
PROPORTION TO THEIR
OBJECTS' VALUES THAT THEIR
COMBINATION IS EVIL, NOT
JUST AS A COMBINATION,
AS IN SOME SHORTFALLS IN
VIRTUE, BUT ON BALANCE.
THESE VICES ARE THEREFORE
MADE EVIL BY THE HOLISTIC
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE OR
BY THAT PRINCIPLE AS WEIGHED
AGAINST THE FIRST AND
LAST RECURSION CLAUSES.
NOW EARLIER I CLAIMED THAT
EXTREME SELFISHNESS IS A
VICE OF DISPROPORTION
AND THE SAME HOLDS FOR
EXTREME COWARDICE.
JUST AS AN EXTREMELY SELFISH
PERSON CARES MUCH MORE ABOUT
HIS OWN LESSER GOODS THAN
ABOUT GREATER GOODS OF OTHER
PEOPLE, SO AN EXTREME COWARD
CARES MUCH MORE ABOUT HIS
COMFORT OR SAFETY THAN ABOUT
SOME GREATER GOOD HE COULD
ACHIEVE BY RISKING THEM.
IN ITSELF, HIS CONCERN FOR
HIS COMFORT IS GOOD BECAUSE
HIS COMFORT IS GOOD.
BUT IF IT'S STRONG ENOUGH TO
PREVENT HIM FROM PURSUING
SOME MUCH GREATER GOOD IT
MAKES HIS ATTITUDES ON
BALANCE EVIL.
NOW THESE INITIAL VICES OF
DISPROPORTION HAVE TWO CONTRARY
VICES OF SELF-ABNEGATION
AND FOOLHARDINESS.
IF STATES OF ALL PEOPLE HAVE
VALUE, IT'S JUST AS EVIL TO
CARE LESS ABOUT ONE'S OWN
GOOD AS IT IS TO CARE MORE.
A PERSON WHO DISCOUNTS HIS
GOOD TO AN EXTREME OR IS
EXTREMELY SELF-ABNEGATING
HAS A COMBINATION OF
ATTITUDES THAT'S
ON BALANCE EVIL.
SUCH A PERSON NEED NOT
BE SELF-HATING OR EVEN
INDIFFERENT TO HIS OWN GOOD.
HE NEED HAVE NO
SELF-REGARDING ATTITUDE THAT
ON ITS OWN IS EVIL.
BUT HE DOES LACK A
KIND OF SELF-RESPECT.
RESPECT FOR HIS OWN GOOD IS
EQUAL IN IMPORTANCE TO OTHER
PEOPLE'S AND THIS LACK OF
SELF-RESPECT IS A VICE
OF DISPROPORTION.
A SIMILAR POINT APPLIES
TO FOOLHARDINESS.
JUST AS IT CAN BE ON BALANCE
EVIL TO CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT
ONE'S SAFETY, SO IT CAN BE
EVIL TO CARE TOO LITTLE
ABOUT IT OR TO RISK IT IN
FOOLHARDY ACTIONS AIMED
AT TRIVIAL GOODS.
QUITE APART FROM ITS
EFFECTS, SUCH FOOLHARDINESS
INVOLVES AN INTRINSICALLY
VICIOUS PREFERENCE FOR
LESSER OVER GREATER VALUES.
THERE ARE MANY OTHER VICES
OF DISPROPORTION, INCLUDING
INTEMPERANCE, WITH THE MORE
SPECIFIC FORMS OF GLUTTONY,
DRUNKENNESS AND LUST,
PEDANTRY AND NEPOTISM.
A PERSON WITH ONE OF THESE
VICES LOVES AN OBJECT THAT
HE SHOULD LOVE TO SOME
DEGREE MUCH MORE INTENSELY
THAT ITS VALUE RELATIVE TO
OTHER GOODS MAKES APPROPRIATE.
HE CARES DISPROPORTIONATELY
ABOUT THE PLEASURES OF
EATING, DRINK OR SEX, ABOUT
SMALL POINTS OF DETAIL OR
ABOUT THE WELFARE
OF HIS OWN CHILDREN.
AND THEY'RE AGAIN CONTRARY
VICES OF CARING TOO LITTLE
ABOUT THESE OBJECTS.
YET ANOTHER VICE OF
DISPROPORTION IS LAZINESS IF
THAT'S DISTINGUISHED IN A
CERTAIN WAY FROM SLOTH.
I DON'T KNOW.
I SEEM TO BE FOND OF FINE
DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN APATHY,
SLOTH AND LAZINESS.
A SLOTHFUL PERSON DOESN'T
CARE MORE THAN MINIMALLY
ABOUT GOODS
ACHIEVABLE BY ACTION.
A LAZY PERSON MAY CARE MORE
THAN MINIMALLY BUT HIS
CARING IS OUTWEIGHED BY
A STRONGER LOVE OF THE
PLEASURES OF IDLENESS.
IT'S NOT A LACK OF INTEREST
IN GOODS THAT PREVENTS HIM
FROM ACTING, BUT EXCESSIVE
FONDNESS OF INACTION.
FETISHISM, TOO, IS BEST
UNDERSTOOD AS A VICE
OF DISPROPORTION.
LOVING FOR ITSELF WHAT IS
NEUTRAL IN VALUE IS NOT
ITSELF EVIL GIVEN THE
ASYMPTOTIC VIEW, BUT LOVING
SOMETHING NEUTRAL MORE THAN
ONE LOVES A GOOD IS EVIL BY
THE PROPORTIONALITY
PRINCIPLE.
THUS, LOVING FAME MORE THAN
ONE LOVES KNOWLEDGE IS EVIL
BECAUSE IT FAILS TO
RECOGNIZE THE GREATER VALUE
OF THE KNOWLEDGE, AND A
SIMILAR EVIL IS PRESENT IN
MORE SPECIFIC VICES SUCH AS
MISERLINESS AND AVARICE.
AN AVARICIOUS PERSON CARES
MORE ABOUT HIS OWN MONEY AND
THEREFORE HIS OWN
INSTRUMENTAL GOOD THAN ABOUT
OTHER PEOPLE'S.
HIS AVARICE IS IN THAT
RESPECT A FORM OF
SELFISHNESS, BUT HE MAY ALSO
CARE ABOUT HIS MONEY FOR ITS
OWN SAKE AS THE MISER DOES
AND DO SO WITH SUFFICIENT
INTENSITY THAT HIS
COMBINATION OF ATTITUDES
JUST TO HIS OWN STATES
IS ON BALANCE EVIL.
IN OVERVALUING WEALTH AS
AGAINST GENUINE GOOD SUCH AS
PLEASURE AND KNOWLEDGE, HE
MANIFESTS A SELF-REGARDING
VICE OF DISPROPORTION.
A DIFFERENT VICE OF
DISPROPORTION IS PRIDE WHICH
INVOLVES EXCESSIVE PLEASURE
IN CERTAIN ASPECTS OF ONE'S
OWN GOOD.
AT THE LOWEST LEVEL, ONE
CAN TAKE PLEASURE IN ONE'S
KNOWLEDGE OR ACHIEVEMENT.
THIS BECOMES PRIDE IN A SENSE
CONNOTING VICE WHEN ONE IS
MUCH MORE PLEASED BY ONE'S
OWN KNOWLEDGE OR ACHIEVEMENT
THAN BY SIMILAR OR GREATER
ACHIEVEMENTS OF OTHERS.
AT A HIGHER LEVEL ONE CAN BE
PLEASED BY ONE'S VIRTUE,
BY ONE'S LOVE OF GOOD AND
HATRED OF EVIL AND MORE SO
THAN BY THE SIMILAR
VIRTUE OF OTHER PEOPLE.
THIS IS SPECIFICALLY MORAL
PRIDE OR EXCESSIVE LOVE OF
ONE'S OWN MORAL QUALITIES
AND LIKEWISE OF VICE.
PRIDE NORMALLY INVOLVES A
SPECIFIC KIND OF LOVE, ONE
BASED ON A BELIEF THAT
A STATE OF ONESELF IS
ADMIRABLE OR GOOD.
SOME PHILOSOPHERS SIMPLY
EQUATE PRIDE WITH THIS BELIEF.
SO EXCESSIVE PRIDE JUST
IS THE BELIEF THAT ONE IS
SUPERIOR TO OTHERS
WHEN ONE IS NOT.
BUT THIS BELIEF ON ITS OWN
IS NEITHER NECESSARY NOR
SUFFICIENT FOR
THE VICE OF PRIDE.
IMAGINE SOMEBODY KNOWS HIS
ACHIEVEMENTS ARE NO GREATER
THAN OTHER PEOPLE'S BUT
DWELLS ON THEM CONSTANTLY,
TAKING INTENSE PLEASURE IN
THEM AND EXPRESSING THAT
PLEASURE IN BOASTING.
HE IS OBJECTIONABLY PROUD
DESPITE NOT HAVING THE
RELEVANT BELIEF.
CONVERSELY, SOMEONE WHO
DOES HAVE THE BELIEF... HE
BELIEVES FALSELY THAT HIS
ACHIEVEMENTS ARE GREATER
THAN OTHER PEOPLE'S... IS NOT
OBJECTIONABLY PROUD IF HE
DOESN'T DWELL ON HIS
ACHIEVEMENTS OR TAKE MUCH
PLEASURE IN THEM.
IF HE DOESN'T HAVE A PROUD
ATTITUDE, HIS BELIEF DOES
NOT MAKE FOR VICE.
NOW THAT'S NOT TO DENY THAT
AN EXAGGERATED BELIEF ABOUT
ONE'S MERITS IS A COMMON
ELEMENT IN PRIDE, BUT WHEN
THIS BELIEF CONTRIBUTES TO
THE VICE OF PRIDE, IT'S
BECAUSE, LIKE THE COGNITIVE
STATES IN CYNICISM AND
THOUGHTLESSNESS, IT ORIGINATES
IN A VICIOUS ATTITUDE.
IN THE RELEVANT CASES, A
PROUD PERSON WANTS TO BE
BETTER THAN OTHER PEOPLE OR
WANTS TO BE GOOD HIMSELF
MORE THAN HE WANTS OTHER
PEOPLE TO BE GOOD, AND BY
WISHFUL THINKING OR
SELF-DECEPTION PERSUADES
HIMSELF THAT WHAT
HE WANTS IS SO.
AT THE ROOT OF HIS VICIOUS
PRIDE IS AN EXCESSIVE
CONCERN FOR HIS OWN AS
OPPOSED TO OTHER PEOPLE'S
GOOD, THAT IS A CONCERN
THAT IS SELFISH
AND DISPROPORTIONATE.
YET ANOTHER VICE OF
DISPROPORTION IS WHAT
CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHERS
CALL MORAL SELF-INDULGENCE
OR PRIGGISHNESS WHICH
INVOLVES CARING MORE ABOUT
ONE'S OWN VIRTUE THAN ABOUT
THE BENEFITS IT CAN PROVIDE
FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
AS BERNARD WILLIAMS PUTS
IT, A PERSON IS MORALLY
SELF-INDULGENT WHEN WHAT HE
CARES ABOUT IS NOT SO MUCH
OTHER PEOPLE, AS HIMSELF
CARING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE.
OR WHEN HE CARES
DISPROPORTIONATELY ABOUT HIS
VIRTUE OR HAS IT BE MORE
IMPORTANT IN HIS MOTIVATION
THAN A CONCERN
FOR OTHER PEOPLE.
NOW IF SOMEONE ACTS FROM A
VIRTUOUS DESIRE FOR ANOTHER
PERSON'S PLEASURE, AND
PRODUCES THAT PLEASURE,
THERE ARE TWO GOODS
PRESENT IN THE SITUATION.
THE OTHER'S PLEASURE AND HIS
OWN VIRTUOUS DESIRE FOR IT.
AND HOW IT'S BEST FOR HIM
TO DIVIDE HIS LOVE BETWEEN
THESE GOODS DEPENDS ON
THEIR COMPARATIVE VALUES.
NOW I ARGUE IN MY BOOK THAT
FAR FROM BEING THE GREATEST
GOOD, AS SOME PHILOSOPHERS
HIGH-MINDEDLY CLAIM, VIRTUE
IS IN THE FOLLOWING
SENSE A LESSER GOOD.
THE VALUE OF A VIRTUOUS
ATTITUDE TO AN OBJECT IS
ALWAYS LESS THAN THE VALUE,
EITHER POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE,
OF THAT OBJECT.
THUS COMPASSION FOR
ANOTHER'S PAIN, THOUGH GOOD,
IS ALWAYS LESS GOOD
THAN THE PAIN IS EVIL.
SO THE COMBINATION OF PAIN
AND COMPASSION FOR IT IS
ALWAYS LESS GOOD THAN IF
THERE WERE NEITHER PAIN
NOR COMPASSION.
BUT THIS VIEW IMPLIES
THAT A VIRTUOUS DESIRE FOR
ANOTHER'S PLEASURE IS ALWAYS
LESS GOOD THAN IS THE
PLEASURE, AND THIS IN TURN
IMPLIES THAT CARING MORE
ABOUT ONE'S VIRTUOUS DESIRE
IS DISPROPORTIONATE, WHICH
MAKES SELF-INDULGENCE AT
LEAST A SHORTFALL IN VIRTUE
AND IN EXTREME
CASES, A VICE.
I MIGHT JUST SAY SOMETHING
MORE ABOUT THAT.
I MEAN I SAID... THE MORE
COMMON VIEW IS THAT VIRTUE IS
THE GREATEST AMONG GOODS.
AND THAT'S OFTEN BEEN
EXPRESSED IN VERY
EXTREME FORM.
SO ROSS, W.D. ROSS, SAYS THAT
VIRTUE HAS INFINITE VALUE
COMPARED TO PLEASURE
OR KNOWLEDGE.
IN THE 19th CENTURY CARDINAL
NEWMAN EXPRESSED THE SAME
VIEW ABOUT VICE SAYING IT
WOULD BE LESS BAD IF ALL
HUMANKIND WERE TO EXPIRE IN
EXTREMIST AGONY THAN THAT
ONE PERSON SHOULD
COMMIT ONE VENIAL SIN.
WELL, I FIND... I THINK MOST
PEOPLE WILL FIND THOSE VIEWS
PRETTY HARD TO ACCEPT.
THEY IMPLY THAT IF A
VIRTUOUS PERSON IS SUBJECTED
TO YEAR AFTER YEAR OF
UNENDING, AGONIZING TORTURE,
THEN HE HAS A FANTASTICALLY
GOOD LIFE, AN OVERWHELMINGLY
GOOD LIFE WITH THIS ONE
TINY, TINY INSIGNIFICANT
INFINITESIMAL
ELEMENT OF EVIL.
AND SO IN THE BOOK I DEFEND
THE CONTRARY VIEW THAT THE
VALUE OF A VIRTUOUS OR
VICIOUS ATTITUDE IS ALWAYS
LESS THAN THE VALUE OF ITS
OBJECT, AND TWO OF THE
ARGUMENTS FOR THAT WERE
IMPLICIT JUST IN WHAT I SAID.
ONE IS TAKE THE COMBINATION
OF AN EVIL AND VIRTUOUS
HATRED OF IT.
SO ONE PERSON'S PAIN AND
ANOTHER PERSON'S COMPASSION
FOR IT.
THAT CAN'T BE BETTER THAN IF
THERE WERE NEITHER PAIN
NOR COMPASSION.
OR TAKE ANOTHER EXAMPLE.
IMAGINE THAT A PERSON FEELS
MALICE AND THEN SHAME
AT HIS MALICE.
THAT CAN'T BE BETTER THAN
FEELING NEITHER MALICE
NOR SHAME.
SO THAT'S ONE ARGUMENT WHY
THE VALUE OF AN ATTITUDE
SHOULD BE LESS THAN THE
VALUE OF ITS OBJECT.
AND ANOTHER ONE IS JUST THAT
THIS IS HOW WE CAN EXPLAIN
WHAT'S WRONG WITH
MORAL SELF-INDULGENCE.
IT'S WIDELY ACCEPTED IN
CONTEMPORARY PHILOSOPHY
THAT, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT...
YOU'RE NOT FULLY VIRTUOUS IF
YOU'RE MOTIVATED PRIMARILY BY
THOUGHTS OF YOUR OWN VIRTUE.
WELL THERE SHOULD BE SOME
EXPLANATION ABOUT THAT.
WHY IS IT CONTRARY TO TRUE
VIRTUE TO CARE MOST ABOUT
YOUR OWN VIRTUE?
WELL, YOU HAVE AN
EXPLANATION IF YOU SAY WELL,
YOUR VIRTUE IS ALWAYS LESS
IMPORTANT THAN ITS OWN
OBJECT SO THAT IF YOU CARE
MORE ABOUT YOUR VIRTUE THAN
ABOUT WHAT YOUR VIRTUE IS
DIRECTED AT, YOU'RE CARING
MORE ABOUT WHAT HAS
LESS VALUE, WHICH IS
DISPROPORTIONATE
AND CAN BE VICIOUS.
AND SIMILARLY, IF YOU ACCEPT
THAT COMPARATIVE VIEW, THE
RECURSIVE ACCOUNT CAN ALSO
EXPLAIN A RELATED SHORTFALL
OR VICE, NAMELY
SENTIMENTALITY OR KITSCH AS
DEFINED BY MILAN KUNDERA.
AND AS YOU MAY RECALL IN
THE
UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING,
KUNDERA WRITES, "KITSCH
CAUSES TWO TEARS TO
FLOW IN QUICK SUCCESSION.
THE FIRST TEAR SAYS HOW NICE
TO SEE CHILDREN RUNNING ON
THE GRASS.
THE SECOND TEAR SAYS HOW
NICE TO BE MOVED TOGETHER
WITH ALL MANKIND BY CHILDREN
RUNNING ON THE GRASS.
IT'S THE SECOND TEAR THAT
MAKES KITSCH KITSCH."
WELL, KUNDERA'S SECOND TEAR
INVOLVES, AGAIN, AN EXCESSIVE
CONCERN WITH ONE'S OWN
ATTITUDE RATHER THAN THROUGH
THAT OBJECT... SORRY.
AN EXCESSIVE CONCERN WITH
ONE'S OWN ATTITUDE RATHER
THAN THROUGH THAT ATTITUDE
WITH AN OBJECT IN THE WORLD.
IT INVOLVES CARING MORE
ABOUT ONE'S CRYING THAN
ABOUT WHAT ONE'S
CRYING ABOUT.
KITSCH ALSO USUALLY INVOLVES
A LOWER LEVEL DISPROPORTION,
AN OVERVALUING OF SOME TRITE
OBJECT SUCH AS CHILDREN
RUNNING ON THE GRASS.
BUT THIS LOWER LEVEL
DISPROPORTION OFTEN
ORIGINATES IN THE HIGHER
LEVEL SELF-INDULGENCE.
IT'S BECAUSE ONE IS SO EAGER
TO HAVE A MORALLY FINE
ATTITUDE THAT ONE DOES NOT
NOTICE THE TRUE BANALITY OF
ITS OBJECT.
NOW OTHER VICES SUCH AS
ENVY STRADDLE THE DIVISION
BETWEEN PURE VICES AND
VICES OF DISPROPORTION.
AN ENVIOUS PERSON LACKS SOME
GOOD THAT ANOTHER PERSON HAS
AND IS TROUBLED
BY THIS FACT.
IN ADDITION TO HIS INTEREST
IN THE GOOD CONSIDERED ON
ITS OWN, HE RESENTS THE
DISPARITY BETWEEN HIS STATE
AND THE OTHER PERSON'S AND
WANTS THAT DISPARITY REMOVED.
IN ONE FORM OF ENVY CALLED
EMULATIVE ENVY, HE SEEKS TO
REMOVE THE DISPARITY BY
ACQUIRING THE SAME GOOD
FOR HIMSELF.
DESIRING IT MORE INTENSELY
AND PURSUING IT MORE
VIGOROUSLY THAN IF HE WERE
NOT SPURRED BY THE OTHER'S
POSSESSION OF IT.
THIS EMULATIVE ENVY
IS AT WORSE A VICE
OF DISPROPORTION.
THE ENVIOUS PERSON DESIRES A
GOOD BUT MORE INTENSELY THAN
ITS INTRINSIC MERITS
MAKE APPROPRIATE.
A MORE VICIOUS FORM OF ENVY,
MALICIOUS ENVY, SEEKS TO
REMOVE THE DISPARITY IN THE
OTHER WAY BY DESTROYING THE
OTHER PERSON'S GOOD.
IT CAN ALSO TAKE THE FORM OF
PLEASURE WHEN THAT GOOD IS
DESTROYED BY OTHER FORCES.
MALICIOUS ENVY IS A PURE
VICE INVOLVING HATRED OF
ANOTHER'S GOOD, AND IN ITS
WORST FORM, WHICH WE CAN
CALL SPITE, INVOLVES
A DOUBLE PURE VICE.
A SPITEFUL PERSON PREFERS A
SITUATION WHERE NEITHER HE
NOR ANOTHER HAS A GIVEN GOOD
TO ONE WHERE HE HAS IT TO A
LESSER DEGREE AND THE
OTHER PERSON HAS IT TO
A GREATER DEGREE.
HERE IS DESIRE TO AVOID A
DISPARITY IN STANDING MAKES
HIM HATE NOT ONLY THE OTHERS
BUT ALSO HIS OWN GOOD OR TO
TAKE A PURELY VICIOUS
ATTITUDE TO TWO PEOPLE'S GOODS.
A SIMILAR ANALYSIS APPLIES
TO A RELATED VICE THAT'S
SOMETIMES CALLED JEALOUSY AND
SOMETIMES BEGRUDGINGNESS.
THE JEALOUS PERSON, AS
I'LL CALL HER, IS LIKEWISE
CONCERNED WITH THE DISPARITY
IN GOODS BUT STARTS FROM THE
SUPERIOR POSITION OF HAVING A
GOOD THAT ANOTHER PERSON LACKS.
IN A LESS VICIOUS FORM OF
JEALOUSY SHE LOVES HER OWN
GOOD MORE BECAUSE THE OTHER
PERSON LACKS IT, TAKING
GREATER PLEASURE IN IT OR
WANTING MORE INTENSELY TO
RETAIN IT THAN IF SHE CARED ONLY
ABOUT ITS INTRINSIC QUALITIES.
THIS FORM OF JEALOUSY IS
A VICE OF DISPROPORTION
INVOLVING EXCESSIVE
LOVE OF SOMETHING GOOD.
THE MORE VICIOUS FORM OF
JEALOUSY INVOLVES DESIRING
THAT THE OTHER NOT ACQUIRE
THE GOOD THAT ONE HAS.
SO ONE'S POSSESSION OF IT
WILL REMAIN EXCLUSIVE,
OR TAKING PLEASURE IN
HER NOT HAVING IT.
LIKE MALICIOUS ENVY, THIS
SECOND FORM OF JEALOUSY IS A
PURE VICE INVOLVING
HATRED OF ANOTHER'S GOOD.
SO TO SUMMARIZE, THE
RECURSIVE ACCOUNT RECOGNIZES
PURE VICES MADE EVIL BY TWO
RECURSION CLAUSES, VICES OF
INDIFFERENCE MADE EVIL
BY THE CLAUSES ABOUT
INDIFFERENCE AND VICES OF
DISPROPORTION MADE EVIL BY
THE PROPORTIONALITY
PRINCIPLE.
AS A CATEGORY, OR
ABSTRACTING FROM THE VALUES
OF THEIR OBJECTS, THE PURE
VICES ARE WORSE THAN THE
VICES OF INDIFFERENCE WHICH
ARE WORSE THAN THE VICES
OF DISPROPORTION.
IT'S MORE EVIL TO LOVE AN
EVIL OR HATE A GOOD THAN TO
BE INDIFFERENT TO IT
AND HOLDING ONE'S OTHER
ATTITUDES FIXED MORE EVIL TO
BE INDIFFERENT TO A GOOD OR
EVIL THAN TO LOVE OR HATE IT
WITH DISPROPORTIONATE INTENSITY.
THIS RANKING OF THE VICES,
AND ESPECIALLY THE PRIMACY
OF THE PURE VICES, HAS
BEEN AFFIRMED BY
SEVERAL PHILOSOPHERS.
SCHOPENHAUER SAYS OF
SCHADENFREUDE THAT TO FEEL
ENVY IS HUMAN BUT TO INDULGE
IN SUCH MALICIOUS JOY IS
FIENDISH AND DIABOLICAL.
THERE IS NO MORE INFALLIBLE
SIGN OF A THOROUGHLY BAD
HEART AND PROFOUND MORAL
WORTHLESSNESS THAN AN
INCLINATION TO A SHEER AND
UNDISGUISED MALIGNANT JOY
OF THIS KIND.
MORE RECENTLY, JUDITH SHKLAR
WRITES THAT LIBERAL AND
HUMANE PEOPLE, OF WHOM THERE
ARE MANY AMONG US, WOULD, IF
THEY WERE ASKED TO RANK THE
VICES, PUT CRUELTY FIRST.
BUT THE RANKING SHOULD
NOT BE TREATED AS MORE
SIGNIFICANT THAN IT IS.
IT CONCERNS THE CATEGORIES
OF VICE ONLY AS CATEGORIES
AND DOESN'T IMPLY THAT EVERY
INSTANCE OF A WORSE KIND OF
VICE IS MORE EVIL THAN ANY
INSTANCE OF A LESSER KIND.
MALICIOUSLY DESIRING A SMALL
EVIL FOR ANOTHER PERSON SUCH
AS A SMALL PAIN, CAN BE
LESS VICIOUS THAN BEING
INDIFFERENT TO
HIS GREAT PAIN.
I MEAN HANNAH ARENDT'S
CONCEPT OF THE BANALITY OF
EVIL APPLIED INITIALLY TO
ADOLF EICHMANN IS PRECISELY
THAT OF MORAL EVIL THAT
INVOLVES NOT SADISM OR
MALICE, BUT MERE
CALLOUS INDIFFERENCE.
BUT CALLOUSNESS ABOUT AN
EVIL AS IMMENSE AS THE
HOLOCAUST IS STILL AN
IMMENSE EVIL AND FAR WORSE
THAN PETTY MALICE.
SIMILARLY INDIFFERENCE TO A
MINOR GOOD OR EVIL CAN BE
LESS VICIOUS THAN A HUGE
DISPROPORTION AMONG
VIRTUOUS ATTITUDES.
IT CAN BE LESS EVIL TO BE
UNMOVED BY ANOTHER'S MINOR
PAIN THAN TO BE MOVED ABOVE
THE THRESHOLD BY ITS GREATER
PAIN, BUT MUCH LESS THAN
BY ONE'S OWN TRIVIAL PAIN.
HOWEVER THE CATEGORIES OF
VICE COMPARE AS CATEGORIES,
THE VALUES OF THEIR SPECIFIC
INSTANCES DEPENDS ON FACTS
ABOUT THEIR SPECIFIC
INTENTIONAL OBJECTS.
NOW BY RECOGNIZING THESE
THREE CATEGORIES OF VICE,
THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
CAPTURES A WIDE RANGE OF
EVIL STATES OF CHARACTER,
BUT IT ALSO ALLOWS A CERTAIN
PESSIMISM ABOUT
PEOPLE'S CHARACTERS.
AFTER ALL, IF THERE ARE MANY
KINDS OF VICE, THERE ARE
MANY WAYS IN WHICH HUMAN
ATTITUDES CAN BE, AND
PRESUMABLY ARE,
MORALLY EVIL.
AND THE ACCOUNT CAN BE
CONTRASTED ON THIS SCORE
WITH TWO OTHERS THAT ARE
MORE OPTIMISTIC IMPLYING IN
DIFFERENT WAYS THAT VICE
IS LESS COMMONLY FOUND.
NOW THE FIRST SUCH ACCOUNT
RECOGNIZES ONLY THE PURE
VICES AS VICES.
IT REJECTS THE PRINCIPLES
ABOUT INDIFFERENCE, HOLDING
THE INDIFFERENCE TO GOODS OR
EVILS IS NEITHER GOOD NOR
EVIL, AND THAT EVEN THE
LEAST INTENSE LOVES OF GOOD
AND HATREDS OF EVIL
ARE POSITIVELY GOOD.
IT ALSO REJECTS THE
PROPORTIONALITY PRINCIPLE,
HOLDING THAT WHAT I CALL
VICES OF DISPROPORTION
INVOLVE ONLY
SHORTFALLS IN VIRTUE.
THIS ACCOUNT TREATS
CALLOUSNESS, EXTREME
SELFISHNESS AND EXTREME
COWARDICE, WHICH I'VE SAID
ARE EVIL, AS EITHER
POSITIVELY, THOUGH NOT
IDEALLY GOOD, OR AS
AT WORST NEUTRAL.
ONLY A FEW ATTITUDES, SUCH
AS MALICE, SADISM AND
DEPRAVITY CONSTITUTE VICE WHICH
IS THEREFORE LESS WIDESPREAD.
THE SECOND MORE OPTIMISTIC
ACCOUNT RECOGNIZES ONLY
VICES OF INDIFFERENCE
AND OF DISPROPORTION.
IT CAN'T HOLD THAT THE PURE
VICES EXIST BUT AREN'T EVIL.
THAT WOULDN'T BE CREDIBLE.
INSTEAD IT DENIES
THAT SUCH VICES EXIST.
THIS DENIAL IS IMPLICIT IN
ARISTOTLE'S THEORY OF VICE
AS STATED IN HIS
DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN
HOLDS THAT EVERY VIRTUE IS
INTERMEDIATE BETWEEN TWO
VICES, ONE OF EXCESS AND ONE
OF DEFICIENCY.
IT'S VIRTUOUS TO HAVE A
CERTAIN FEELING OR TO LOVE A
CERTAIN OBJECT TO THE RIGHT
DEGREE AND ON THE RIGHT
OCCASIONS AND VICIOUS TO
LOVE IT EITHER TOO MUCH
OR TOO LITTLE.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN
ASSUMES THAT NO HUMAN FEELINGS
ARE INAPPROPRIATE OR EVIL,
WHATEVER THEIR INTENSITY.
SINCE EVERY FEELING RELEVANT
TO MORAL EVALUATION IS
INTRINSICALLY GOOD IF
PRESENT IN THE RIGHT DEGREE,
VICE CONSISTS ONLY IN
EXCEEDING OR FALLING SHORT
OF THIS DEGREE.
GIVEN ARISTOTLE'S ACCEPTANCE
OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN,
IT'S NO SURPRISE THAT THE
VICES HE ANALYZES IN HIS
ETHICS, SUCH AS COWARDICE,
INTEMPERANCE AND MEANNESS,
ARE ALL EITHER VICES OF
DISPROPORTION OR AT WORST
LIKE SHAMELESSNESS OF
INDIFFERENCE AND THAT HE
NEVER MENTIONS PURE
VICES SUCH AS MALICE AND
DEPRAVITY, WHICH ARE
INTUITIVELY THE WORST VICES.
ARISTOTLE'S IS A SUNNY
PICTURE OF HUMAN VICE ON
WHICH IT CONSISTS ALWAYS IN
AIMING IN A GOOD DIRECTION
BUT MISSING ONE'S MARK
RATHER THAN IN HAVING AN
EVIL AIM FROM THE START.
AND THAT'S TO SAY THAT
IT'S A NAIVE PICTURE.
ARISTOTLE MAY SEEM TO ALLOW
FOR PURE VICES WHEN HE SAYS THAT SOME FEELINGS, SUCH AS
SPITE, SHAMELESSNESS AND
ENVY DON'T ADMIT OF MEANS
BECAUSE THEIR NAMES ALREADY
IMPLY BADNESS.
BUT READ CAREFULLY, THIS
REMARK IMPLIES NO TRUE
DEPARTURE FROM THE DOCTRINE
OF THE MEAN AND NO EXPANSION
OF THE CATEGORIES OF VICE.
AS ARISTOTLE GOES ON TO SAY,
WE CAN APPLY A SPECIAL NAME
TO THE EXCESS OR DEFICIENCY
OF SOME FEELING, SUCH AS
COWARDICE TO THE EXCESS OF
FEAR, AND THERE WILL BE NO
MEAN ASSOCIATED WITH THIS
NAME BECAUSE THERE'S IN
GENERAL NO MEAN OF EXCESS
AND DEFICIENCY, AND THAT'S
EXACTLY HOW ARISTOTLE
UNDERSTANDS HIS TRIO OF
SPITE, SHAMELESSNESS AND
ENVY, ALL OF WHICH HE CLAIMS
INVOLVE AN EXCESS OR
DEFICIENCY OF SOME MORE
FUNDAMENTAL FEELING THAT IN
AN INTERMEDIATE FORM IS GOOD.
CONCERNING SUCH FUNDAMENTAL
FEELINGS, ARISTOTLE STILL
APPLIES THE DOCTRINE OF THE
MEAN AND STILL DENIES THE
POSSIBILITY OF PURE VICES.
AND WHAT'S TRUE OF
ARISTOTLE'S THEORY IS ALSO
TRUE OF OTHER CLASSICAL
THEORIES OF VICE.
CONSIDER PLATO'S THEORY
IN THE REPUBLIC THAT VICE
CONSISTS IN CONFLICT OR
DISHARMONY AMONG ELEMENTS IN
THE SOUL OR THE VIEW OF
AQUINAS AND OTHERS THAT
VICE IS NOTHING POSITIVE BUT
ONLY THE ABSENCE OF VIRTUE.
THESE VIEWS TOO LEAVE NO
ROOM FOR THE PURE VICES AND
THUS DENY THEIR EXISTENCE.
BUT SURELY ANY ADEQUATE
THEORY OF VICE MUST INCLUDE
THE WORST VICES OF ALL.
THE RECURSIVE ACCOUNT DOES
INCLUDE THEM BY ASSERTING
THEIR VICIOUSNESS IN THE
RECURSION CLAUSES THAT ARE
AT STARTING POINT AND CORE.
SO TO CONCLUDE, I'VE
SKETCHED A RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
OF VIRTUE AND VICE AND SHOWN
HOW IT CONNECTS IN THE
DESIRED WAY TO
PARTICULAR VICES.
IT YIELDS A WIDE VARIETY OF
DIFFERENT VICES AND WOULD
YIELD EVEN MORE IF IT
WERE EXTENDED IN A
DEONTOLOGICAL DIRECTION.
IT ALSO UNIFIES THE VICES,
SHOWING HOW THEY ALL INVOLVE
INAPPROPRIATE ATTITUDES TO
OTHER GOODS AND EVILS OR IN
ITS EXTENDED VERSIONS TO
RIGHTNESS OR THE GROUNDS OF IT.
SO ALL THE VICES ARE IN SOME
SENSE HIGHER LEVEL EVILS.
FINALLY, THE ACCOUNT
ILLUMINATES THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN VICES SHOWING,
FOR EXAMPLE, HOW VICES OF
DISPROPORTION THAT INVOLVE
PLURAL ATTITUDES THAT ON
THEIR OWN ARE GOOD DIFFER
FROM PURE VICES THAT INVOLVE
A SINGLE ATTITUDE
THAT'S EVIL.
AND THOUGH I'VE NOT HAD TIME
TO SHOW THIS, THE ACCOUNT
CONNECTS IN THE SAME WAY TO
PARTICULAR VIRTUES YIELDING
A PLAUSIBLE LIST OF SUCH
VIRTUES, UNIFYING THEM AND
ILLUMINATING THEIR
DIFFERENCES.
IN THE LAST FEW DECADES THE
MAJORITY OF WRITING ABOUT
VIRTUE HAS BEEN DONE BY
VIRTUE ETHICISTS WHO TAKE
THEIR INSPIRATION FROM
ARISTOTLE OR OTHER
ANCIENT PHILOSOPHERS.
BUT THESE VIRTUE ETHICISTS
SEEM UNAWARE THAT A
DIFFERENT ACCOUNT OF VIRTUE
AND VICE WAS WIDELY ACCEPTED
ABOUT A HUNDRED YEARS AGO
IN WHAT I THINK WAS AN
ESPECIALLY RICH PERIOD
FOR MORAL THEORY.
THIS RECURSIVE ACCOUNT IS
NOT VIRTUE ETHICAL BECAUSE
IT DEFINES THE VIRTUES
BY RELATION TO MORAL
CONSIDERATIONS THAT ARE
INDEPENDENT OF AND PRIOR TO
VIRTUE AND BECAUSE IT
IDENTIFIES RIGHT ACTIONS
LARGELY BY REFERENCE TO
THOSE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS.
BUT IT DOESN'T TREAT THE
VIRTUES JUST AS DISPOSITIONS
TO ACT RIGHTLY.
ON THE CONTRARY, IT TREATS
THEM AS INTRINSICALLY GOOD
AND THEREFORE IMPORTANT
IN THEIR OWN RIGHT.
THIS RECURSIVE ACCOUNT
HAS MANY MERITS.
AS I'VE TRIED TO SHOW IN
THIS PAPER, ONE IT CAN
SUCCESSFULLY CONNECT ITS
GENERAL CLAIMS ABOUT VIRTUE
AND VICE TO PARTICULAR
VIRTUES AND VICES IN A WAY
THAT VIRTUE ETHICISTS HAVE
YET TO SHOW THAT THEIR
APPROACH CAN DO.
THANK YOU.

[applause]

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Watch: Dr. Thomas Hurka on Vicious Vice.