I spent the weekend at the American Philosophical Association’s (APA) Central Division meeting in Denver, my first APA, believe it or not, since 2011. It was a good time, certainly a welcome relief from my day job in health care revenue cycle management.
The APA is always punctuated, if that’s the right word, by a “Presidential Address,” a lecture given by the distinguished philosopher who is president of that particular division. This meeting’s presidential address was given by Connie Rosati of the University of Texas at Austin, an ethicist whose work I only know in a superficial way. Rosati gave an interesting talk on what she called “The Lincoln Virtues,” meaning a set of virtues associated with, or nicely exemplified by, Abraham Lincoln. The virtues in question involve a certain kind of magnanimity, generosity, and humility–not quite Christian and not quite pagan, but maybe a synthesis of the two or a mean between them. Think of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, and you’ll get the basic idea: “with malice toward none, with charity for all,” asserted by a president approaching imminent victory in a bitter civil war. (The address was given about a month before the Union’s victory in the US Civil War.) Continue reading