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On the Cardinality of the Cardinal Virtues

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This paper is a detailed study of what are traditionally called the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. I defend what I call the Cardinality Thesis, that the traditional four and no others are cardinal. I define cardinality in terms of three sub-theses, the first being that the cardinal virtues are jointly necessary for the possession of every other virtue, the second that each of the other virtues is a species of one of the four cardinals, and the third that many of the other virtues are also auxiliaries of one or more cardinals. I provide abstract arguments for each sub-thesis, followed by illustration from concrete cases. I then use these results to shed light on the two fundamental problems of the acquisition of the virtues and their unity, proving some further theses in the latter case.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/096725599341785

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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