Towards Computer Simulations of Virtue Ethics

Jeremiah A. Lasquety-Reyes 1
  • 1 MECS, Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany


This article presents two approaches for computer simulations of virtue ethics in the context of agent-based modeling, a simple way and a complex way. The simple way represents virtues as numeric variables that are invoked in specific events or situations. This way can easily be implemented and included in social simulations. On the other hand, the complex way requires a PECS framework: physical, cognitive, emotional, and social components need to be implemented in agents. Virtue is the result of the interaction of these internal components rather than a single variable. I argue that the complex way using the PECS framework is more suitable for simulating virtue ethics theory because it can capture the internal struggle and conflict sometimes involved in the practice of virtue. To show how the complex way could function, I present a sample computer simulation for the cardinal virtue of temperance, the virtue that moderates physical desires such as food, drink, and sex. This computer simulation is programmed in Python and builds upon the well-known Sugarscape simulation.1

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