What is a virtue, and how are virtues different from vices? Do people with virtues lead better lives than the rest of us? Do they know more? Can we acquire virtues if so, how?

In this lively and engaging introduction to this core topic, Heather Battaly argues that there is more than one kind of virtue. Some virtues make the world a better place, or help us to attain knowledge. Other virtues are dependent upon good intentions like caring about other people or about truth. Virtue is an original approach to the topic, which carefully situates the fields of virtue ethics and virtue epistemology within a general theory of virtue. It argues that there are good reasons to acquire moral and intellectual virtues virtuous people often attain greater knowledge and lead better lives. As well as approaching virtue in a novel and illuminating way, Battaly ably guides the reader through the dense literature surrounding the topic, deftly moving from important specific and technical points to more general issues and questions. The final chapter proposes strategies for helping university students acquire intellectual virtues. Battaly’s insights are complemented by entertaining examples from popular culture, literature, and film, really bringing this topic to life for readers.

Virtue is the ideal introduction to the topic. It will be an equally vital resource for students who are encountering the topic for the first time, and for scholars who are deeply engaged in virtue theory.

Show More
Buy Now


Order Exam Copy

For Lecturers Only

More Info
  • January 2015
  • 200 pages
  • 145 x 224 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $62.25
  • 9780745649535
  • Paperback $26.00
  • 9780745649542
  • Open eBook $20.99
  • 9780745688701
Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

1 what Are the Virtues? 1

1.1 A Working Definition of Virtue 1

1.2 Two Key Concepts of Virtue 7

1.3 Must We Choose between the Two Key Concepts? 25

1.4 Why Would We Care about the Virtues 28

2 Ends Matter: Virtues Attain Good Ends or Effects 31

2.1 Virtues Attain Good Ends: The Teleological Variety 33

2.2 Virtues Attain Good Effects: The Nonteleological Variety 53

2.3 Luck in Getting Ends or Effects 56

3 Motives Matter: Virtue Require Good Motives 59

3.1 Virtues Require Good Motives-and-Actions, but Attaining Good Ends? 63

3.2 Virtues Require Good Motives-Actions-and-Attaining-Good-Ends? 63

3.3 Virtues Require Good Motives-and-Actions-but-not-Attaining-Good-Ends 75

3.4 Objections 81

4 Vice and Failures of Virtue 86

4.1 Ends Matter: Vice Attain Bad Ends or Effects 88

4.2 Motives Matter: Vices Require Bad Motives 93

4.3 Weakness of Will and Vice 100

4.4 Self-Control and Virtue 104

5 Virtue, Right Action, and Knowledge 108

5.1 Components of the Virtues 109

5.2 Are Components of Moral Virtue Necessary and Sufficient for Right Action? 112

5.3 Are Components of Intellectual Virtue Necessary and Sufficient for Knowledge? 120

6 Virtue and Living Well 131

6.1 Living Well: some Parameters 132

6.2 Living Well: The Main Accounts 134

6.3 Is Virtue Sufficient for Living Well? 137

6.4 Is Virtue Necessary for Living Well? 142

7 How Can We Acquire the Virtues? 150

7.1 Habituation 151

7.2 Objections 154

7.3 Strategies for Acquiring Intellectual Virtues in University Classrooms 158

Notes 169

References 178

Index 183

About the Author
Heather Battaly is Professor of Philosophy at California State University Fullerton
Show More


"An extremely impressive introduction to the concept of virtue. It addresses both moral virtue and intellectual virtue. And it provides an excellent overview of the key thinkers and scholarly literature on these topics. Battaly moves seamlessly between discussing important philosophical details and offering fun and illuminating examples. The writing is crisp, clear, and engaging throughout. The book is an ideal introduction to virtue and virtue theory for undergraduates and experts alike."
Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University

"This is a very attractive and accessible introduction to the philosophy of the virtues, both ethical and epistemological."
Michael Slote, University of Miami

"An excellent introduction to virtue theory by an author who knows the issues thoroughly and presents them lucidly and interestingly."
Ernest Sosa, Rutgers University

Show More