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Chapter 3: Character Formation in Professional Education: A Word of Caution

Lost Virtue

ISBN: 978-0-76231-196-5, eISBN: 978-1-84950-339-6

ISSN: 1479-3709

Publication date: 10 October 2006


This chapter questions the role of virtues in health professional medical ethics. It distinguishes between the ethics of conduct – usually expressed as moral principles – and the ethics of the character – expressed as virtues. It questions whether virtues are intrinsically valued or valued instrumentally as the means to right conduct. It poses two problems for virtue theory: (1) The “naked virtue” problem – whether instilling virtues increases the probability of correlative morally right conduct, and (2) the “wrong virtue” problem–which of many sometimes controversial virtues should be promoted. The chapter ends by arguing that these are less serious problems for the morality of conduct.


Veatch, R.M. (2006), "Chapter 3: Character Formation in Professional Education: A Word of Caution", Kenny, N. and Shelton, W. (Ed.) Lost Virtue (Advances in Bioethics, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 29-45.



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