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Virtues and Their Vices$
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Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645541.001.0001

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Avarice and Liberality

Avarice and Liberality

(p.156) (p.157) 7 Avarice and Liberality
Virtues and Their Vices

Andrew Pinsent

Oxford University Press

Although avarice is associated with many notorious evils, there is a peculiar ambiguity about its matter, specification and even aspects of its moral status. Assuming that the essential mark of avarice is an excessive desire for money or monetary value, its virtuous counterpart might appear to consist in a straightforward path of moderation. This chapter argues that attempts to define this moderation as a rational mean cannot succeed, however, not only because of the complexities of monetary flow, accumulation and dissipation, but because the true root of what makes avarice a vice is its moral prosopagnosia, the way it disposes someone to inhibit, crush or betray second-person relatedness. The antidote is the liberality by which one gains freedom by subsuming one’s stance towards money into a broader framework of second-person relatedness, the flourishing of which is incommensurate with financial value and which promotes light-heartedness, generosity and even humor about possessions.

Keywords:   avarice, liberality, money, generosity, prosopagnosia, second-person relatedness

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