Chapter

ARISTOTLE’S VIRTUES OF GREATNESS

DANIEL C. RUSSELL

in Virtue and Happiness

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646043
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743368 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646043.003.0008

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy

ARISTOTLE’S VIRTUES OF GREATNESS

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This chapter focuses on the Aristotelian virtues of ‘magnificence’ and ‘magnanimity,’ rejecting the popular view that here Aristotle reveals a conception of the virtues as seemly qualities of members of a grand, influential elite. Against this, it is argued first that some virtues are restricted to specific groups because only members of those groups will have the relevant occasion to develop and exercise those virtues; and there is nothing elitist about the thought that unusual social prominence can be such an occasion. Second, it is argued that it is exactly this thought that underlies Aristotle’s account of magnificence and magnanimity, which require distinctive forms of practical reasoning that are made salient only by demands peculiar to positions of social prominence. Lastly, the idea that some virtues are distinctive just in virtue of belonging to an elite class individuates virtues without reference to differences in practical reasoning between them. Such an idea, it is argued, is inimical to the very structure of an Aristotelian virtue theory.

Keywords: aristotle; virtue; virtue theory; elitism; magnificence; magnanimity

Chapter.  14972 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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