Five years ago I was up-to-date on virtue ethics. I've been ignoring it for a few years, so please forgive me if what I'm about to say is old news.
Rosalind Hursthouse argues: "An action is right iff it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances, except for in tragic dilemmas, in which a decision is right if it is what the agent would choose, but the action decided upon may be too terrible to be deemed right or good."
One traditional worry with this is a variation of the Euthyphro problem: Does the virtuous agent perform the action because it's right or is it right because the virtuous agent would do it. Hursthouse takes the first horn of the dilemma and tries to argue that this is not a problem for virtue ethics.
However, I think that the analysis of right action is mistaken. There are (I think) counterexamples.
For instance, consider Richard Sylvan's Last Man thought experiment: You know that you are the last sentient being who will ever exist on earth. Beside you is a giant old redwood (or the Mona Lisa or whatnot). You could destroy it for no reason. Would it be wrong to? Some people try to argue that it would be wrong, but another take (defended by Tom Hill, Jr.) is that it would be show bad character, but not strictly speaking be wrong.
Or, suppose I am about to perform a supererogatory action. (E.g., volunteering at a soup kitchen after one's basic duties of charity are discharged.) Someone offers me a small amount of money not to do so. I take the money and fail to perform the supererogatory action. I think a virtuous agent would not accept the money and would instead perform the supererogatory action. It would exhibit vice to take money in this case. However, it's not strictly speaking wrong.
So, I take it that Hursthouse's analysis of right action is wrong because there are actions which are right (permissible) that a virtuous agent would not do.
Has someone already argued this somewhere?Like