chapter  13
12 Pages

Non-relative virtues: an Aristotelian approach

This is an odd result, as far as Aristotle is concerned. For it is obvious that he was

not only the defender of an ethical theory based on the virtues, but also the defender

of a single objective account of the human good, or human flourishing. This account

is supposed to be objective in the sense that it is justifiable by reference to reasons

that do not derive merely from local traditions and practices, but rather from features

of humanness that lie beneath all local traditions and are there to be seen whether

or not they are in fact recognized in local traditions. And one of Aristotle’s most

obvious concerns was the criticism of existing moral traditions, in his own city and

in others, as unjust or repressive, or in other ways incompatible with human

flourishing. . . . Aristotle evidently believed that there is no incompatibility between

basing an ethical theory on the virtues and defending the singleness and objectivity

of the human good. Indeed, he seems to have believed that these two aims are

mutually supportive.