The Vices against the Virtue of Temperance among the Atyap Cultural Heritage of Africa: A Philosophical Approach

Keywords: virtue; vice; temperance; moral; moderation; human action; cultural heritage


The place of virtues in moral discussions continues to occupy a central position. This is because moral arguments revolve around virtues and vices. It is taken for granted that virtues produce commendable good moral actions, whereas vices lead to immoral actions that are widely condemned. Virtue ethicists ground their arguments on the assumption that human actions are directly linked to either virtues or vices. But then, to each of the virtues, there exists a degree of excess or deficit, above or below which we begin to speak of counter habitual predispositions, called vices. If this is so, then there should be a way of ascertaining the measure on the basis of which we distinguish between a virtue and its vice. How do we justify the criteria for arriving at such a measure? More so, there is a traditional classification of virtues into cardinal and peripheral virtues: what exact moral features could a virtue exemplify in order to be classified as a cardinal rather than a peripheral virtue? In this article, the Author attempts the analysis of one of the so-called cardinal virtues, precisely that of temperance. He tries to highlight the concept of shame verses honour as viewed and practiced among the atyap cultural heritage in Africa. The goal is modest, namely: to highlight those moral features which justify the classification of temperance as a cardinal virtue and to account for the standard or measure which account for the distinguishing of the vices associated with temperance.


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