Other ethical opinions could then be required to subordinate practical considerations to character or vice versa. As this entry suggested, Hume seems to side with Aristotle and favor character over practical considerations. Because it suggests that someone with natural virtues based on self-esteem will have the broader imagination necessary for correct thinking from the perspective of the reasonable viewer. Whether the character of reason is subordinate to Mill may depend on the type of utilitarianism that Mill can demonstrate. If there is a motive utilitarian who thinks that one must act as should act the motivations or virtues that would be the most productive of happiness, then one could make a case for him to prevail over character over practical reason. On the other hand, if he is a utilitarian of act or rule, he seems to give the character a role subordinate to reason. These brief remarks indicate that the question of whether an ethical theorist inserts priority to character can only be determined by a thorough analysis of the various critical elements of that philosopher`s vision. My chapter begins with a general warning against the excessive expectation of ethics in public order and a more specific warning against the misguided ethical idealism that I associate with the “esoteric morality” promoted by influential utilitarian ethical theorists, of which the nineteenth-century British philosopher Henry Sidgwick is the model. My restoration of a more realistic set of ethical expectations is based on an artificial distinction, but I think the productive distinction between “ethics” and “morality.” For political purposes, I define “ethics” with respect to good relations between political actors and “morality” with respect to the deeper commitments of value that we all make as individuals, separately and separately from our public roles. In conclusion, I confront the Sidgwick model of centralized ethical paternalism with my favorite model of dispersed ethical pluralism.
I propose that contemporary political systems be based on ethical regimes that give political leaders considerable regulatory power, which shifts them towards guardianship rather than pluralism, which weighs at a certain price on the ethics of sustainable democracy. Once these equitable institutions were in place, Rawls believed that the worst aspects of the social division of labor could be overcome. No one, he writes, “needs to depend on others and choose between monotonous and routine professions that kill human thought and sensitivity” (1999a, 464). Here Rawls notices the same problems with many types of paid work that worried Aristotle so much. Paid work often limits the exercise of the worker`s decision-making powers and requires her to adapt to the instructions of others. Of course, Rawls does not propose to solve these problems like Aristotle. But he believes that they must be resolved and that a just society can solve them, perhaps by accepting Mill`s proposal (see section 3.4 above) to restructure jobs to become worker-led cooperatives (2001, 178). Aristotle accepts Plato`s division of the soul into two fundamental parts (rational and non-rational) and agrees that both parts contribute to the virtuous character.
Of all the Greek moralists, Aristotle delivers the most psychologically revealing report on the virtuous character. Since many modern philosophical treatments (see sections 3 and 4 below) are due to Aristotle`s analysis, it is best to discuss his position in detail. Esotericism is generally associated with conservatives (think recent debates about “neoconservatives”) rather than social progressives like Sidgwick. . . .