Virtue Ethics and Rational Disabilities: A Problem of Exclusion and the Need for Revised Standards
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When we develop accounts of the good life we inevitably need to work with simplified images of human beings so as to limit the ideas our account must grapple with. Yet, in the process of this simplification we often exclude certain types of agents from having moral status because our image of humanity does not take their key features into account. The problems created by this type of simplification are very apparent when we consider how virtue ethics deals with the lives of people with Intellectual Disabilities. Since virtue ethics focuses on reason it very quickly excludes people with limited intellectual functioning from being moral agents who have access to the happy life. In this thesis I explore this problem of exclusion further and present a revised set of virtues based on the Capabilities Approach by Martha Nussbaum. By developing this new focus for virtue ethics I create a virtue-based approach to the good life that is not only more inclusive of agents with limited intellectual functioning but also represents a richer path to the good life for all agents.
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