Virtue-based Approaches to Professional Ethics: a Plea for More Rigorous Use of Empirical Science


  • Georg Spielthenner University of Dar es Salaam Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies P.O. Box 110135 Dar es Salaam Tanzania



Empirical Ethics, Professional Ethics, Professional Virtues, Science-based Ethics, Teleological Virtue Theory, Virtue Ethics


Until recently, the method of professional ethics has been largely principle-based. But the failure of this approach to take into sufficient account the character of professionals has led to a revival of virtue ethics. The kind of professional virtue ethics that I am concerned with in this paper is teleological in that it relates the virtues of a profession to the ends of this profession. My aim is to show how empirical research can (in addition to philosophical inquiry) be used to develop virtue-based accounts of professional ethics, and that such empirically well-informed approaches are more convincing than traditional kinds of professional virtue ethics. The paper is divided into four sections. In the first, I outline the structure of a teleological approach to virtue ethics. In Section 2, I show that empirical research can play an essential role in professional ethics by emphasizing the difference between conceptual and empirical matters. Section 3 demonstrates the relevance of virtues in professional life; and the last section is concerned with some meta-ethical issues that are raised by a teleological account of professional virtues.

Biografia do Autor

Georg Spielthenner, University of Dar es Salaam Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies P.O. Box 110135 Dar es Salaam Tanzania

Georg Spielthenner has been Professor of Philosophy at the University of Zambia and the University of Dar es Salaam. He is the author of “Grundlagen der Ethik” (2003) in which he examines the philosophical foundations of ethical theory, and he has published numerous articles on problems of normative ethics, meta-ethics, and applied ethics.



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