Could it be? The Oklahoma Daily reports that Oklahoma University Professor Linda Zagzebski has received two grants to help her write a book on her new ethical theory, which she calls “Examplarist Virtue Theory.” What’s that, you ask? 

Zagzebski will use the grants to take a paid leave of absence to write the book about her Examplarist Virtue Theory, a moral theory that discusses the relationship between people and their exemplars, people who are picked out by the emotion of admiration, she said. 

The theory’s basic idea is to define basic moral concepts such as virtue by connecting them to exemplars of moral goodness, Zagzebski said. These exemplars are people who have been singled out through a group’s admiration, she said.

Zagzebski is well-published in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of religion, and this sounds like an interesting project. However, I’m skeptical of the claim that this is a “new” moral theory. In fact, many virtue ethicists have written about the importance of moral role models — especially when it comes to children. 

It’s also worth noting that one of Zagzebski’s two grants comes from the John Templeton Foundation, and that her previous work has been described as having “a particular theological Christian foundation.”

I suppose that means Zagzebski will include in her book Jesus as a moral exemplar. But  Moses? Abraham? Yahweh? I don’t think they’re what Aristotle had in mind

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