APSE-CEU-IVC Talks Sommerterm 2022

May 11th, 2023

Herman Paul will give a talk titled "The “Return of Virtue” Motif: How Historically Plausible Is It?" in the context of the APSE lecture series. The talk series is jointly organized by Sophie Veigl, Martin Kusch and members of the APSE group.

Details: Thursday, May 11th, 3-5pm, ONLINE

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Meeting ID & Passcode:write to evelyn.gasiorek@univie.ac.at to ask !

Abstract: Philosophers often talk about a “revival,” “return,” “resurgence,” or “renewal” of virtue ethics. Insofar as these phrases denote a steep increase in the past few decades in the number of books and articles devoted to virtue ethics, these metaphors make perfect sense. To the extent, however, that a revival presupposes a period of absence followed by a retrieval of old ways of thinking, there are reasons to wonder how accurate this story is. I will address this question through a literature survey on virtues in the history of philosophy and some adjacent fields of study. I will argue that, for various reasons, the story finds little support in the relevant literature. Put simply, it is historically untenable. Why, then, have philosophers nonetheless embraced this story? To answer this follow-up question, I will historicize the narrative, tracing its origins back to the mid-1980s. I will argue that the metaphors of “revival” and “return” originate in the debates surrounding Alasdair MacIntyre’s work in the 1980s. Initially serving as evaluative categories, they have since fossilized into a commonplace narrative.

Bio: Herman Paul is Professor of the History of the Humanities at Leiden University, where he directs a five-year research project entitled “Scholarly Vices: A Longue Durée History.” He is the author, most recently, of Historians’ Virtues: From Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge University Press, 2022). His book Dogmatism: On the History of a Scholarly Vice, co-authored with Alexander Stoeger, is scheduled to appear next year.

All welcome!