Why We Should Never Sacrifice Knowledge
17 December 2012
Annas vs. Driver: Why We Should Never Sacrifice Knowledge
For as long as we Homo sapiens have been capable of reasoning, we have pondered how we ought to live our lives. What constitutes a “good” life? What constitutes a “bad” one? How should we treat the world, and how should we treat ourselves? What does “good” even mean? Although the answers to these questions are understandably still quite foggy, it seems safe to say that the general consensus leans toward a utilitarian stance: to be good is to live in a way that limits the suffering of others or that brings about the greatest happiness to the greatest number of individuals. To better strive towards maximizing universal good, humankind has tried to actively distinguish between “right” and “wrong” behaviors. In doing so, many morality systems have been proposed by many different people each with the hope of best being able to accurately guide us in this process. Those who seem to best exhibit the morals we set are praised as being virtuous. However, it is obviously not universally agreed upon as to what these standards are. Thus, living virtuously has many different meanings and applications depending on whom you talk to.
In her article, “Being Virtuous and Doing the Right Thing”, philosopher Julia Annas dismisses static and impersonal accounts of moral theory in favor of a developmental, personal, and knowledge-based account of virtue ethics. Most people, she argues, near
Greavu 2 adulthood with only a limited, parochial understanding of morality that they developed largely because of the family and/or culture they grew up in. Realizing that some of their ideas about morality and virtue are mere convention (and maybe even prejudicial), they then attempt to better themselves. One way that they may go about this, as described by Annas, is to: . . . take the directives that we find in our unreflective ethical thought, and refine them so