Is Understanding Necessary for Ethical Choice

One of the most important and problematic aspects to arise out of Greek philosophy is Socrates identifying virtue with wisdom. Virtue=wisdom. In short, this identity means that to do good, one must know the good. Ethical behavior becomes an epistemological concern with this approach. Is this true? Can you do good acts without understanding their nature? What is the moral worth of an act that is good unintentionally or by happenstance? Conversely, can you do wrong yet fully know better? As many have commented, punishment becomes problematic if virtue=wisdom because if we believe that knowledge is a prerequisite to right behavior, then punishing someone for wrong choices seems counterproductive since they did not know better. Better that we instruct them on their error and move forward, right?

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