I remember skimming an article by a female philosopher that argued that each of the three major kinds of ethics can actually be expressed in terms of each other.

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    I believe I've read the same article. "Proved" language is probably not a good choice for the simple reason that not everyone accepts it, but if it's the same article, I don't think she goes that so far but rather suggests that each view can with some strain be articulated in the terms of the other.
    – virmaior
    Nov 16, 2017 at 5:01
  • I remember hearing about it in terms of proof and that the article showed how each is actaully equivalent to the others. For example, consequentialism is both a virtue ethics (you should strive to maximize desirable consequences) and a deontology (you need to maximize desirable consequences). Nov 16, 2017 at 20:41
  • If you read something that purports to prove that, then I would say it's both false and not the same article I recall. The article I recall points out that you can understand virtue ethics as maximizing virtue and deontology as maximizing rationality. Or at least those were the strongest transpositions it suggested.
    – virmaior
    Nov 16, 2017 at 22:57
  • Do you have a counter-proof, to be able to say that without looking at her proof, you know it's false? Dec 18, 2017 at 16:57
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    Sure, being an ethicist, I happen to know that virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialism are not equivalent, intercheangeable, and identical. One way to recognize this is that they come to different conclusions about certain actions. Another way is that they think ethics is about different subjects ... I could go on, but none of this is an answer to your question as to who wrote said article.
    – virmaior
    Dec 18, 2017 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


There is an article by Marcia Baron in which she rejects the view that 'consequentialism, virtue ethics, and Kantian ethics form three distinct and competing ethical theories'. While this does not imply that they are mutually reducible, it goes a long way to reconciling them. I am naturally unable to say whether this is the article to which you refer but it seems acutely relevant to your concerns. Baron's position is reinforced by Philip Pettit in 'Rival Theories?'. See M. Baron et al., Three Methods of Ethics, Oxford : Blackwell, 1997. The quote appears in Baron's essay on p.4; for Pettit's contribution see pp. 252-6.

  • if they were not reconcilable, wouldn't that go some way toward showing that philosophers (and by extension everyone) are in general quite morally illiterate? what do you mean by "[not] competing"? if anyone arguing for virtue ethics is (implicitly) arguing against deontology and our obligations, let alone whether a virtuous person is not acting on their obligations, well, that would make ethics quite a sham imho
    – user38026
    Apr 15, 2019 at 4:01

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