While I am well versed in ethics*1 and even considered an expert by some*2 in my area of specialization*3, I always, always, always go back to my sources when I write about ethics to make sure that I’m not misrepresenting the work of others by distorting it through the lens of what part of a topic or an author’s work seemed important to me. It’s also a good way to brush up on areas I tend to neglect. While I could open any number of books sitting on my shelves, it is frankly easier to open an internet source as I’m already writing on my computer. Thus, for topics where a sufficiently trustworthy source exists, I may very well skim a website to make sure that I’m not forgetting or misremembering anything important.
Often, that website is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Today it happens to be the SEP’s background page on Virtue Ethics. Imagine my surprise to read down and find myself defamed by this go-to internet resource on important philosophical topics.
The monstrous passage is found where the SEP attempts to define Virtue from the perspective of the Virtue ethicist:
A virtue is an excellent trait of character. It is a disposition, well entrenched in its possessor—something that, as we say, goes all the way down, unlike a habit such as being a tea-drinker
Tea drinking is an excellent trait. It is the most excellent trait. As for tea drinking not being well entrenched? Not going all the way down? This passage is incomprehensible and an abomination: yes, both. I don’t care about the logic.
Damn them, I say. Damn them to hell.
*1: I hope this has been obvious.
*2: I think there’s someone other than me. Two counts as “some”, doesn’t it?
*3: Which, of course, may merely mean that no one else considers my area of focus anything but abstruse and thus no one bothers to do work that would outdo mine, as would happen should even the mediocre care enough to try.