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Virtuous Reality

…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” —Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

ON AUGUST 24, 2016, AT 3:36 AM, A 6.2 MAGNITUDE earthquake struck central Italy, devastating centuriesold towns and villages across the mountainous regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche. The quake killed 297 people, mostly in the town of Amatrice located near the epicenter. The town’s historic center, with buildings dating to the Middle Ages, was obliterated. In the immediate aftermath, the mayor, Sergio Pirozzi, told a broadcaster, “the town isn’t here any more.”1 To see the scale of death and destruction and its human impact reflected in the dazed and distressed expressions of the survivors naturally evokes feelings of empathy and concern. But it is unlikely that anyone has felt any sense of moral indignation over the processes of nature that caused this catastrophe: the continuous tectonic movement of the African Plate into the Eurasian Plate and the pressure it exerts on the Apennine Mountain region where the quake occurred.

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