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