Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):307-325 (2008)
This paper argues that Husserl’s ethics do not fit into any one of three commonly recognized kinds of ethical theory: virtue (Aristotelian), deontological (Kantian), and consequentialist (especially, utilitarianism). Husserl’s mature ethical theory, in particular, combines a modern, Kantian or Fichtean approach based on a strong concept of a free and active ego capable of shaping its life autonomously through its own will with a more Aristotelian theory of the virtues that help us to shape our lives in order to reach happiness or eudaimonia. The paper presents a historical overview of Husserl’s writings on ethics, divided into two main periods with distinct emphases. It concludes that, on the one hand, Husserl’s theory of the ethical person clarifies the origin of the virtues in the free activity of the subject, and on the other, it extends the voluntaristic conception of subjectivity to encompass the passively constituted habits. In this way, Husserl combines an Aristotelian-style virtue ethics with modern theories of subjectivity. It is this combination of modern and Aristotelian elements in Husserl’s ethics that makes it a systematically fruitful and promising contribution to ethical theory
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