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Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines

Editor-in-Chief: Garello, Pierre

Ed. by Gentier, Antoine

2 Issues per year



Volume 17 (2011)

Volume 16 (2010)

Volume 15 (2009)

Hobbes, Rawls, Nussbaum, Buchanan, and All Seven of the Virtues

Deirdre N McCloskey1

1University of Illinois at Chicago

Citation Information: Journal des Economistes et des Etudes Humaines. Volume 17, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1145-6396, DOI: 10.2202/1145-6396.1249, April 2011

Publication History

Published Online:

Virtue ethics proposes a set of seven—four pagan virtues and three Christian—as a roughly adequate philosophical psychology. Hobbes tried to get along with one virtue, prudence, to which Rawls added a veiled virtue of justice. Nussbaum’s Frontiers of Justice adds the virtue of love. But in criticizing Rawls, she enunciates a “Nussbaum Lemma,” that is, a good society is unlikely to arise from over-simple models of ethical life. Since virtuous, flourishing societies are what we wish, we had better insert the virtues, as she puts it, “from the start.” James Buchanan's constitutionalism, for example, solves moral hazards in a Nussbaumian world, but leaves hanging the ethical start. To start a project ending in constitutional citizenship—or human capabilities, or justice as fairness, or a Leviathan state, or the categorical imperative, or the greatest happiness of the greatest number—we need already an ethical actor, embodying the seven principal virtues.

Keywords: Nussbaum; Buchanan; Hobbes; virtue ethics; political philosophy; constitutional political economy; love; Prudence Only

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