The Self-Absorption Objection and Neo-Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 92 (4):641-668 (2018)
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This paper examines one of the central objections levied against neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics: the self-absorption objection. Proponents of this objection state that the main problem with neo-Aristotelian accounts of moral motivation is that they prescribe that our ultimate reason for acting virtuously is that doing so is for the sake of and/or is constitutive of our own eudaimonia. In this paper, I provide an overview of the various attempts made by neo-Aristotelian virtue ethicists to address the self-absorption objection and argue that they all fall short for one reason or another. I contend that the way forward for neo-Aristotelian virtue ethicists is to reject the view that the virtuous agent ought to organize her life in a way that is ultimately good for her, and instead adopt a more expansive conception of her ultimate end, one in which no special preference is given to her own good.

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Jeff D'Souza
McMaster University

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