Christopher H. Toner
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota
Virtue ethics is often alleged to be egoistic, based upon its linking of virtue and happiness. Virtue ethicists often respond that their approach to the moral life is only “formally egoistic” and therefore not objectionable. This paper develops a clear, non-arbitrary definition of egoism (often lacking in these exchanges) as systematic pursuit of one’s own welfare, and then catalogues four broad egoistic strategies for achieving it. I identify “formal foundational egoism” as the one mostplausibly attributed to virtue ethics (its subtlety allows it to account for many features of the moral life, seemingly justifying Aristotelians in their admission that their theory is egoistic in this way). I show instead that any moral theory whose first principle is that each should pursue her own welfare is indeed objectionable. I conclude by showing how virtue ethics can avoid all forms of egoism by counseling the pursuit of perfection rather than welfare alone
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI 10.5840/jpr_2010_9
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References found in this work BETA

Wittgenstein on Meaning and Use.James Conant - 1998 - Philosophical Investigations 21 (3):222–250.
Self-Conscious Individual Versus Social Soul.Eike Von Savigny - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51:67-84.

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Citations of this work BETA

Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse & Glen Pettigrove - 2009 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Role of Welfare in Eudaimonism.Anne Baril - 2013 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 51 (4):511-535.
Agency, Patiency, and The Good Life: The Passivities Objection to Eudaimonism.Micah Lott - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (3):773-786.
Constructing a Good Life.Micah Lott - 2016 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (3):363-375.

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