SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 14.1

Begley, A. M. (2008). Guilty but good: Defending voluntary active euthanasia from a virtue perspective. Nursing Ethics15(4), 434-445.

This article is presented as a defense of voluntary active euthanasia from a virtue perspective and it is written with the objective of generating debate and challenging the assumption that killing is necessarily vicious in all circumstances. Practitioners are often torn between acting from virtue and acting from duty. In the case presented, the physician was governed by compassion and this illustrates how good people may have the courage to sacrifice their own security in the interests of virtue. The doctor’s action created huge tensions for the nurse, who was governed by the code of conduct and relevant laws. Appraising active euthanasia from a virtue perspective can offer a more compassionate approach to the predicament of practitioners and clients. The tensions arising from the virtue versus rules debate generates irreconcilable difficulties for nurses. A shift towards virtue would help to resolve this problem and support the call for a change in the law. The controversial nature of this position is acknowledged. The argument is put forward on the understanding that many practitioners will not agree with the conclusions reached.

Article 14.2

Bottoms, A., & Shapland, J. (2014). Can persistent offenders acquire virtue? Studies in Christian Ethics, 27(3), 318–333.

Most offenders, even persistent offenders, eventually desist from crime, and the fastest period of deceleration in the frequency of offending is in the early twenties. This article summarizes results from a longitudinal study of desistance from or persistence in crime in this age range, illustrated by three case histories. A key finding is that, because of their deep prior engagement in crime, would-be disasters from repeat offending need to make many adjustments to their patterns of daily life. The authors explain why virtue ethics has been found to be a valuable resource in theorizing these results.

Article 14.3

Buchanan, D., Khoshnood, K., Stopka, T., Shaw, S., Santilices, C., & Singer, M. (2002). Ethical dilemmas created by the criminalization of status behaviors: Case examples from ethnographic field research with injection drug users. Health Education & Behavior29(1), 30-42.                                 

The criminalization of behaviors such as the ingestion of certain mood-altering drugs creates ethical dilemmas for researchers studying those behaviors. The Syringe Access, Use, and Discard (SAUD) project is designed to uncover micro-contextual factors that influence HIV and hepatitis risk behaviors of injection drug users. The article presents seven ethical dilemmas encountered using ethnographic methods: issues involving syringe replacement at injection locales, risks of participants’ arrest, potential disruptions in participants’ supply routes, risks of research staff arrest, threats to the protection of confidentiality, issues surrounding informed consent in working with addicts, and the confiscation of potentially incriminating information by police. The article concludes with a discussion of the limitations of traditional ethical frameworks, such as utilitarianism, for resolving these dilemmas and recommends instead improving public health professionals’ capacity for practical reasoning (phronesis) through the greater use of case studies in public health curricula.

Article 14.4

Prud’homme, J. (2005). Vengeance and virtue in contemporary criminal justice. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 1(3), 376–397. 

This work analyzes changes to criminal procedure that express calls for revenge. It specifically addresses the role of the victims' rights movement in supporting changes to the rules of evidence, and especially the rules concerning character evidence. Recent changes have relaxed the prohibition on character evidence and have increased the importance of judicial discretion. Against recent calls to restrict discretion by reinstating a form of legalism, this work argues that reinstituting rules is unlikely in light of the strong influence of the victims' rights movement. As such, attention must be placed on improving the exercise of discretion by trial judges.

Article 14.5

Lambek, M. (2008). Value and virtue. Anthropological Theory8(2), 133-157.

This article offers suggestions for situating value in the liberal economic sense with respect to values understood in a broader, ethical sense. It is a conceptual exercise in bringing together ideas about value, which pertain largely to objects, with ethical ideas of virtue, which concern acts and character. I argue that economic value and ethical value are incommensurable insofar as the former deals with ostensibly relative, commensurable values and the latter with ostensibly absolute and incommensurable ones. The articulation of incommensurable values is better expressed as acts or practices of judgment rather than of choice. I suggest that sacrifice may be a site where meta-value is established.