Joe, thanks for clarifying. I now understand the point you were making, although I don't think it accurately represents the Objectivist position on moral responsibility.
It is true that, according to Objectivism, you are morally responsible for your mental choices -- for choosing to think. But you're also responsible for your actions insofar as they follow from your thinking or non-thinking. As Nathaniel Branden wrote in the January 1964 issue of The Objectivist Newsletter:
"In the Objectivist theory of volition, a man is responsible for his actions, not because his actions are directly subject to his free will, but because they proceed from his values and premises, which in turn proceed from his thinking or non-thinking. His actions are free because they are under the control of a faculty that is free -- i.e., that functions volitionally."
In other words, how you act is as important as how you think. You ought to act a certain way, because you ought to think a certain way -- in both cases, rationally and responsibly.
You wrote, In this context, the mind-body dichotomy is a view of virtue being something you do in your head. Yes, you're supposed to translate that to practice at some point, but the measure of moral virtue is all in the head.
It's not all in your head. It originates in your head, but it involves your action.
This becomes clear when self-described Objectivists argue about moral perfection. Moral perfection requires yes/no type of judgment. Did you evade? No. Did you lie to yourself? No. Did you subvert your own reasoning to follow someone else's conclusion blindly? No. Good...you're morally perfect. But there's a reason why it stays in the mind. When you put things into practice, it's no long so clear. I can perfectly view you as a friend, and someone else as a threat. But when I act on it, I may not treat you as well as you deserve, or I may not treat them as poorly as I could.
The question here is whether I've treated you poorly due to an error of knowledge or an error of morality. For example, suppose I were to hit a child who darts unexpectedly in front of my car, not allowing me time to stop, versus hitting her because I'm driving recklessly and not paying attention. In the first case, I did a very bad thing materially, hitting an innocent child, but no one would say that I am morally responsible for hitting her and am therefore liable for my action. In the second case, I did a very bad thing morally, and am liable for my action. What is the difference? My mental actions -- my choice to pay attention to my driving, on the one hand, and not to pay attention to it, on the other. In both cases, my actions are materially bad, but only in the second case, are they morally bad. Would anyone say that recognizing this distinction is to be guilty of a mind-body dichotomy?!
There is a second aspect to it, though. Once the idea of virtue being in your head is accepted, the definition of each virtue becomes focuses primarily on what goes on in your head. Justice becomes about recognizing good vs. evil. Independence focuses on independence of judgment. Honesty gets focused on intellectual honesty, or being honest with yourself. Etc. Each is understood as a kind of rationality. Each is focused on properly identifying reality. Each is focused on the mental component, and putting it into action is almost an afterthought.
I wouldn't say that it's almost an afterthought. Clearly, it makes a difference what you do, which is why its important how you think.
For instance, I've argued that one of the key parts of independence as a virtue is in the ability to act on your judgment. If you are in a situation where you are financially dependent on someone else, then you may be stuck accepting their judgment in practice, even if you don't accept it in your mind. But there's nothing virtuous about knowing someone is wrong, but being stuck acting on their judgment anyway. The focus on the mind ignores the need to put these into practice.
If you're in a position where you can't put your thoughts into practice, the fact that you would put them into practice if you could is immaterial. It really doesn't bear on the issue we're discussing. It makes no sense to say that you're "acting on their judgment," if you're unable to do otherwise.
A virtue system that rejected this mind-body split would put an emphasis on productiveness (in the wider sense that I use it), with rationality as absolutely required for that. Together, they would be "rational value pursuit". But both legs are required to achieve virtue. Reason without action would not be virtuous, and neither would action without reason. Only the integration of the two would work.
Again, this mischaracterizes the Objectivist position. Of course, reason without action would not be virtuous, but it wouldn't be "reason" if it weren't acted upon. The purpose of thought is action. Rational action follows from rational thought. There is no mind-body split in Objectivism in the sense that you're describing it.
And the other virtues would mirror this by incorporating action and reason. Honesty would not be just about being honest with yourself. It would a focus on the real in general. It would be communicating honestly to others, living in a way that values truth over deception, etc. Independence would include the intellectual independence, but would be coupled with the need to act on your own judgment and not just secretly disagree. Justice would be focused on treating good people in your life well, and bad people poorly. It would focus on acting in a way to discourage evil actions, and encouraging good actions.
Yes, it would. Rand never said that honesty is just about being honest with yourself. Here is how she describes it:
Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by fraud—that an attempt to gain a value by deceiving the mind of others is an act of raising your victims to a position higher than reality, where you become a pawn of their blindness, a slave of their non-thinking and their evasions, while their intelligence, their rationality, their perceptiveness become the enemies you have to dread and flee—that you do not care to live as a dependent, least of all a dependent on the stupidity of others, or as a fool whose source of values is the fools he succeeds in fooling—that honesty is not a social duty, not a sacrifice for the sake of others, but the most profoundly selfish virtue man can practice: his refusal to sacrifice the reality of his own existence to the deluded consciousness of others. (Ayn Rand Lexicon, online: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/honesty.html)
Joe, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this issue as you have, but as you can see, I disagree that the Objectivist view of virtue is as you've characterized it. I don't see that it entails any kind of a mind-body dichotomy.