HUC-UC Ethics Center April Conference "Virtue Ethics vs. Kantian Ethics" - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Skip to main content

HUC-UC Ethics Center April Conference "Virtue Ethics vs. Kantian Ethics"

Main Content
Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Hebrew Union College-University of Cincinnati 
Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems presents 

Virtue Ethics vs. Kantian Ethics 

April 1-3, 2005 

This conference will examine two prominent systems of ethics: virtue ethics and Kantian ethics. Following World War II, the dominant utilitarian system of ethics gradually gave way to Kantian ethics. Kantian ethics, grounded in the ethics of Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), defended individual rights against the logic of utilitarianism, which seemed to allow for the rights of some to be sacrificed for the sake of the happiness of others. 

With its emphasis on justice, Kantian ethics has come to dominate discussions in the areas of political philosophy, the philosophy of law, and applied ethics during the second half of the 20th Century. Since the 1980s, however, virtue ethics, also known as "Aristotelian ethics" because of its ancestry in the work of Aristotle (384-322 BC), has vigorously challenged the Kantian model and has come to dominate theories of personal virtues, community, and, increasingly, applied ethics. 

Some defenders of Kantian ethics have accused virtue ethics of failing to adequately protect individual rights, of indulging in complete relativism, and of reflecting elitist community values. Defenders of virtue ethics have, in turn, alleged that Kantian ethics is based on false universal principles, a narrow fixation on rights, and a crippling lack of insight into emotions and the good in life. 

Despite such mutual criticism, the nature and the importance of the precise theoretical differences between these two dominating schools of thought remains obscure. This conference brings together eight of the world's leading scholars from both schools to discuss their views on the past, present, and future of the debate between Kantian ethics and virtue ethics. 

The participants are: 

April 1-3,005 
Marcia Baron 
Indiana University Bloomington 
"Virtue Ethics and Kantian Ethics: 
Are they Really Incompatible?"

Paul Guyer 
University of Pennsylvania 
"Kantian Perfectionism" 

Thomas Hill, Jr. 
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 
"Kant on Virtue as Strength of Moral Will" 

Rosalind Hursthouse 
The University of Auckland, New Zealand 
"Moral Knowledge in Aristotelian Virtue Ethics" 

Richard Kraut 
Northwestern University 
"Flourishing and Moral Rightness" 

Anselm Mueller 
Universitat Trier, Germany 
"Practical Teleology: What Aristotle Should Have Said" 

Nancy Sherman 
Georgetown University 
"Aristotle, the Stoics, and Kant on Emotions" 

Michael Slote 
University of Miami 
"The Difficulty We All Have with Deontology" 

The conference is co-sponsored by by the University of Cincinnati College of Law and Philosophy Department. 

The Hebrew Union College-University of Cincinnati Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems (HUC-UC Ethics Center) was founded in 1986 jointly by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and the University of Cincinnati (UC) as a national resource center for the exploration of critical ethical and moral issues, focusing on their dimensions in law, medicine, religion, and other professional as well as non-professional areas. 

HUC-UC Ethics Center has launched a joint graduate studies program in Comparative Law and Ethics at HUC-JIR, Cincinnati, and UC. It also offers Continuing Education Unit (CEU) programs in ethics to educators, social workers, attorneys, nurses, physicians, realtors, and other professionals. The Ethics Center has organized collaborative public programs with a variety of not-profit organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area. It is located at 3101 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio. For information, call 513-221-1875, ext. 3367 or go to 

For the schedule of events and conference information, please go to: or view the PDF brochure Hebew Union College-University of Cincinnati Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.