I am reading On Virtue Ethics by Rosalind Hursthouse. The last one 3rd of the book gives a naturalist account on what character traits is virtue.
The author suggests that, when we say a wolf is a good wolf, it must contribute to
- The survival of itself
- The continuance of its species
- Its own characteristic pleasure and characteristic freedom from pain
- The well functioning of its social groups
Similarly, when we say a human is a good human, he/she must behave in a way that contributes to these four ends. And a virtue is a character traits which makes a human a good human.
Using this standard, the author casts doubt on the
the claim that completely impersonal benevolence conceived of as, perhaps, Peter Singer would conceive of it, is a virtue.
This is because it fails end 2 and 4.
The onus is on those who recommend impersonal benevolence as a virtue to provide at least a speculation about how a species of rational animals who had brought themselves to care naught for their own children or each other's company might still be a species of social animals who, moreover, nurtured their young—and, indeed, went to the trouble of giving them a moral education and bringing them up to be impersonally benevolent in their turn.
If you think impersonal benevolence is indeed a virtue, how would you response to this skepticism?
If you are interested in the book, I have written a summary of the last part here.
I feel that rejecting ethical naturalism necessarily implies rejection of moral objectivity. Thus we will have to accept ethical relativism, which amounts to moral nihilism.
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