Philosophy



The Self-Centredness Objection to Virtue Ethics


Christopher  Toner 

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Aristotelian virtue ethics is often charged with counseling a self-centred approach to the moral life. Reviewing some influential responses made by defenders of virtue ethics, I argue that none of them goes far enough. I begin my own response by evaluating two common targets of the objection, Aristotle and Aquinas, and based on my findings sketch the outlines of a clearly non-self-centred version of virtue ethics, according to which the ‘center’ is instead located in the agent’s right relation to others and ultimately to the Good. I conclude that while some species of virtue ethics may be self-centred, the objection cannot be used to indict the whole genus.

(Published Online November 13 2006)