Obligatory courage.

One of my main concerns right now about next week’s essay is that whilst I definitely want to defend the claim that creativity should count as a virtue, I’m desperate to avoid the implication that this entails any moral obligations. We should never be able to say it’s morally wrong for a master director not to make films.

And yet, most virtue theories of ethics seem to tie right and wrong action to what expresses virtue or vice.

So I was glad to find that Robert Adams is on board in seeing a problem here. His own example:

[T]he claim that every act that it would be characteristic of virtuous persons not to do is morally wrong is implausible too. Suppose excessive timidity leads me to forgo an adventure that is important to some private personal project of my own. Yielding in that way to unreasonable fear is something I would not do without some deficiency in practical wisdom or courage, or probably in both. It is therefore an act that it would be characteristic of thoroughly virtuous persons not to do. But surely it does not follow that I would, in effect, be violating an obligation in doing it, or that it would be reasonable for me to feel guilty about it.


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