Narrative virtues and second-order reasons

Garrett Cullity*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    One approach to thinking about virtues conceives of them as dispositions to respond well to reasons. This “reasons-responsiveness” approach helps to illuminate what is distinctive about such virtues as loyalty and the kind of integrity that amounts to constancy in sustaining one’s allegiances to important goods. These virtues are ways of responding well to facts about the narrative shape that one’s relationships and allegiances have given to one’s life. Of particular interest are the forms that these narrative virtues take when they are responses to the way one’s life has been shaped by one’s previous reasons-responsive decisions. Narrative virtues with this feature are responses to second-order reasons-reasons the content of which involves one’s having responded to other reasons. Appreciating this helps us to distinguish different forms of loyalty and integrity from each other; to see the relationship between these virtues and the choices we face between the plurality of life-shaping goods, not all of which can be accommodated in a single life; to see how a virtuous sensitivity to the life-allegiances one has formed in resolving those choices need not be unduly self-regarding; and to appreciate what there is for someone who faces such choices to think about.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationVirtue, Narrative, and the Self
    Subtitle of host publicationExplorations of Character in the Philosophy of Mind and Action
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Electronic)9781000222562
    ISBN (Print)9780367418205
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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