She considers the following possibilities:
|The immoral person who appears to be moral is the happiest.|
She argues that "an immoral person who appears to be moral [...] possesses all the advantages of a reputation for being moral while avoiding the disadvantages of always acting as morality dictates."
Now, suppose that by "moral person" we mean a virtuous person. According to virtue ethics, moral virtue is formed by habit. That is to say, one becomes virtuous by performing virtuous acts. For example, repeated acts of courage and compassion result in a courageous and compassionate person who performs courageous and compassionate acts from a fixed, good character.
From the perspective of virtue ethics, then, one could argue as follows:
- Suppose that one can appear to be virtuous without actually being virtuous. [The distinction between being virtuous and appearing to be virtuous is at the heart of Vitrano's argument for the independence of happiness and morality.]
- In order to appear to be virtuous, i.e., develop a reputation for being virtuous, one has to act virtuously, at least sometimes. [Premise]
- But when one acts virtuously one is thereby becoming virtuous. [According to virtue ethics, one becomes virtuous by performing virtuous acts.]
- So, one cannot develop a reputation for being virtuous without performing virtuous acts and thereby become virtuous (as a result of performing virtuous acts). [From (2) and (3)]
- Therefore, it is not the case that one can appear to be virtuous without actually being virtuous.