Can We Teach Character? An Aristotelian Answer

1696 Words Oct 15th, 2015 7 Pages
Hartman, E. (2006). Can We Teach Character? An Aristotelian Answer. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(2006), 68-81.

“Can We Teach Character? An Aristotelian Answer” by Edwin M. Hartman is an incredibly well written article on whether, as the title states, character can be taught. I will attempt to critique this article and illustrate points that may have been excluded, but the article is extremely well rounded. The purpose of the article is to determine whether teaching ethics is worth the time taken, whether students will actually act better as a result. Hartman translates Aristotle’s thoughts well, and overall it is a beautiful piece of writing.
Before beginning to critique the article, we must first review its main points. Aristotle essentially argues that ethics can be taught. However, various philosophers and thinkers disagree with the notion. Hursthouse is one such individual, pointing out what are called “v-principles.”(Husthouse, 1999) Husthouse illustrates a common example, that “for example, a generous person happily lends money to needy friends even if they may not be able to pay it back. As generosity is a virtue, one ought to act on the principle…an ungenerous person can know the applicable principles but be stingy anyway; so what good is mere knowledge of the principles?” (Hursthouse, 1999) This isn’t a false statement. If an individual is walking down the streets of San Francisco and encounters a homeless man, he/she may…
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