What Contemporary Virtue Ethics Might Learn from Aristotle’s Rhetoric

Abstract

In this paper, I extend contemporary virtue ethics by pointing to a philosophical insight that emerges from Aristotle’s Rhetoric: technical mastery of a discipline or practice involves cultivating the virtue of practical wisdom. After reviewing features of Alasdair MacIntyre’s virtue ethics, I draw attention to specific virtues identified by MacIntyre while noting the relative absence of the virtue of practical wisdom in his discussion of social practices. I compare and contrast MacIntyre’s virtue ethics with that of Aristotle. Focusing on Aristotle’s Rhetoric, I show how Aristotle suggests that the virtue of practical wisdom is integral to technical mastery in the art of persuasive public speaking. I argue that Aristotle’s insight about the tight connection between practical wisdom and technical mastery is not limited to the art of rhetoric. Retrieving insights from Aristotle’s Rhetoric brings into focus ways in which the virtue of practical wisdom is requisite to technical mastery more generally

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Gregory Beabout
Saint Louis University

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Citations of this work

Was Aristotle a Virtue Argumentation Theorist?Andrew Aberdein - 2021 - In Joseph Andrew Bjelde, David Merry & Christopher Roser (eds.), Essays on Argumentation in Antiquity. Cham: Springer. pp. 215-229.
Endoxa and Epistemology in Aristotle’s Topics.Joseph Bjelde - 2021 - In Joseph Andrew Bjelde, David Merry & Christopher Roser (eds.), Essays on Argumentation in Antiquity. Cham: Springer. pp. 201-214.

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