The kind of mistake I'm referring to, in its simplest, most bare bones form, runs like this: The specific virtues are traits or capabilities any given human being already possesses, and in any given situation he or she needs simply to use their virtues to choose and act well. So, there's really two claims being asserted, or more often, simply assumed on the part of the student. Human beings already have the virtues. And, whatever these virtues are, one just needs to use them.
Virtue Ethics Digest: Are The Virtues Already In Us?
Over in one of my other blogs, Virtue Ethics Digest, I've got a recent set of reflections spurred by a certain misreading or misunderstanding which I see consistently appearing in certain of my students' papers, Are The Virtues Already In Us? It represents what seems to me a characteristically late modern manner of getting virtue (and thereby also vice, moral development, decision, and a number of other key concepts in moral theory) wrong. Here's a brief excerpt: