What's Aristotelian about neo‐Aristotelian Virtue Ethics?

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):671-696 (2019)
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It is commonly assumed that Aristotle's ethical theory shares deep structural similarities with neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. I argue that this assumption is a mistake, and that Aristotle's ethical theory is both importantly distinct from the theories his work has inspired, and independently compelling. I take neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics to be characterized by two central commitments: (i) virtues of character are defined as traits that reliably promote an agent's own flourishing, and (ii) virtuous actions are defined as the sorts of actions a virtuous agent reliably performs under the relevant circumstances. I argue that neither of these commitments are features of Aristotle's own view, and I sketch an alternative explanation for the relationship between virtue and happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics. Although, on the interpretation I defend, we do not find in Aristotle a distinctive normative theory alongside deontology and consequentialism, what we do find is a way of thinking about how prudential and moral reasons can come to be aligned through a certain conception of practical agency.

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Sukaina Hirji
University of Pennsylvania

Citations of this work

Leibniz as a virtue ethicist.Hao Dong - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
Confucian Rituals and Aristotelian Habits.Kevin M. DeLapp - 2024 - Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 23 (2).
The Fundamental Divisions in Ethics.Matthew Hammerton - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-24.
Aristotle for the Modern Ethicist.Sophia Connell - 2019 - Ancient Philosophy Today 1 (2):192-214.

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References found in this work

Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Unprincipled virtue: an inquiry into moral agency.Nomy Arpaly - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Virtue and Reason.John Mcdowell - 1979 - The Monist 62 (3):331-350.

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