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Arts & Letters Daily


3c. Motive - Drama Club


Is a virtuous person the same as a morally good person?


Duty. The Drama Club staff coach, Ms. Smith, humbly accepted the cheers from the audience and the bouquets of flowers at the conclusion of the final night of the dramatic performance of Of Mice and Men. The announcement of this performance, the countless hours of rehearsals and the three-night performance schedule had exhausted her. There had been considerable outcry from a small vocal group of parents who objected to the use of coarse language in the script. Never-the-less, on this final night, the Superintendent praised Ms. Smith and the students for this highly professional rendition of Steinbach’s novel. He called Ms. Smith’s leadership an act of supererogation … she had fulfilled her duty.

Rights. Many thoughts raced through Ms. Smith’s mind. But, they all came down to the issues she had faced as she defended putting on this production. Did she have a right to put on a production of this controversial novel which was on the curriculum? Was it her duty to defend this right? It may have been her right but was this the time and place to defend it? She hoped she had done the right thing.

Motive. Ms. Smith was less concerned about being a morally good person; she wanted to be a person who is actually doing what is right. As one of many role models for adolescents entrusted to her, she must resist the temptation to be self-serving in her choice of drama productions or do what is wrong.


  • How would you defend the decision Ms. Smith made about the questions she faced?
  • Discuss other situations where people use this kind of thinking.

You may want to discuss other dilemmas.

Consider this view of virtuous/morally good person

  • Crooked thinking

“Virtuous person” refers to the disposition of the person.

  • Straight thinking

The distinction is reflected in the emphasis on disposition instead of actually doing something.  “Morally good person” refers to the disposition of the person. “Virtuous” refers to a person who is actually doing what is right. A virtuous person must be endowed with a preponderance of moral virtues. He or she must have a consistent inclination to do certain virtuous acts like telling the truth, being friendly, or being generous from morally good motives. Conversely, a virtuous person would resist, with persistence, the temptation to do what is wrong. A virtuous person would resist the temptation to degrade other people, commit odious acts or dastardly deeds, or live a degenerate life.

Moral principle value tests

An application of the moral principle value tests probably illustrates most clearly what is entailed in evaluative reasoning. They are:

It is important to emphasize that the moral-value principle tests are not designed to resolve issues (guarantee right answers!) but to assess the ‘justification’ for moral value decisions.

To view the Dilemma from the perspective of Duty, Rights, Motives, Desert and Justice, click the following:

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