Status vs. virtue

A course of action can be both virtuous and give us status. It is worth teasing the two apart.

Status is always granted by other people – it is extrinsic. In the absence of others, there is no status to be earned. Virtue is intrinsic. A virtuous act is performed whether or not it is approved by the people around.

Status isn’t necessary moral. A rich or powerful, but unethical person can enjoy high status. Virtue is invariably moral. An act that is virtuous cannot be immoral.

Status is a zero-sum game. For some people to be high status, others have to be low status. Virtue is a positive sum game. An entire society can be virtuous.

Status is possessed – a person has status. Virtue is embodied – a person is virtuous.

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