What is ‘the best and most perfect virtue’?

Analysis 79 (3):387-393 (2019)
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We can clarify a certain difficulty with regard to the phrase ‘the best and most perfect virtue’ in Aristotle’s definition of the human good in Nicomachean Ethics I 7 if we make use of two related distinctions: Donnellan’s attributive–referential distinction and Kripke’s distinction between speaker’s reference and semantic reference. I suggest that Aristotle is using the phrase ‘the best and most perfect virtue’ attributively, not referentially, and further that even though the phrase may refer to a specific virtue (semantic reference), Aristotle is not using the phrase to refer to a specific virtue (speaker’s reference).



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Samuel H. Baker
University of South Alabama

References found in this work

Reference and definite descriptions.Keith S. Donnellan - 1966 - Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Speaker’s Reference and Semantic Reference.Saul A. Kripke - 1977 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 2 (1):255-276.
Ethics with Aristotle.Sarah Broadie - 1991 - Oxford University Press.
Aristotle on Eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1974 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 15-34.
Aristotle on Eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1975 - Oxford University Press.

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