Outing and Virtue Ethics

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Abstract:

The paper argues that the two dominant approaches towards the moral issues surrounding outing are too weak to handle the latter’s complexity and would benefit from being made part of a broader and richer framework, namely, that of virtue ethics. One dominant approach begins by arguing that people do not have the right to privacy in matters of sexual orientation (not behaviour), and so outing gay people does not violate such a right. It continues by arguing that living a dignified life requires the agent to refuse to keep secret the gay sexual orientation of others. The second dominant approach, opposed to the first, argues that gay people have a right to the privacy of sexual orientation, and so outing them is prima facie wrong. Both approaches, the paper argues, are too weak to handle the complexity of outing: the first suffers from emphasizing only one subset of the virtues (dignity, pride, and so on), while the second is too weak to explain fully why in some cases outing is permissible. Virtue ethics is a much richer framework from which to address the complexity of outing.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-5930.00211

Affiliations: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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