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Aristotle and the Virtues

Howard J. Curzer

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693726
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738890 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693726.001.0001
Aristotle and the Virtues

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Aristotle is the father of virtue ethics, and virtue ethics is hot. Yet Aristotle’s accounts of the individual virtues remain opaque, for most contemporary commentators of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics have focused upon other matters. By contrast, this book takes Aristotle’s detailed description of the individual virtues to be central to his ethical theory. Working through the Nicomachean Ethics virtue by virtue, explaining and generally defending Aristotle’s claims, the book brings each of Aristotle’s virtues alive. A new Aristotle emerges, an Aristotle fascinated by the details of the individual virtues. Justice and friendship hold special places in Aristotle’s virtue theory. Many contemporary discussions place justice and friendship at opposite, perhaps even conflicting poles of a spectrum. Justice seems to be very much a public, impartial, and dispassionate thing, while friendship is paradigmatically private, partial, and passionate. Yet in Aristotle’s view they are actually symbiotic. Justice is defined in terms of friendship, and good friendship is defined in terms of justice. Virtue ethics is not only about being good; it is also about becoming good. The book reconstructs Aristotle’s account of moral development. Certain character types serve as stages of moral development. Certain catalysts and mechanisms lead from one stage to the next. Explaining why some people cannot make moral progress specifies the preconditions of moral development. Finally, the book describes Aristotle’s quest to determine the ultimate goal of moral development: happiness.

Keywords: Aristotle; Nicomachean Ethics; virtue ethics; virtue; ethics; justice; friendship; moral development; happiness

Book.  464 pages. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Courage and Continence (NE III.6–9) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Liberality and Benevolence (NE IV.1) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Good Temper and Forgiveness (NE IV.5) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Wit and Wounding (NE IV.8) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Friendliness and Civility (NE IV.6) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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Truthfulness and Integrity (NE IV.7) in Aristotle and the Virtues

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