chapter  6
Pages 29

Impartiality-the idea that everyone’s life is as important as everyone else’s and, in particular, that each person is equally a source of independent, authoritative moral claims on others-is modern morality’s characteristic ideal and also its greatest achievement. But a second and older set of ideas about ethics endures even in the face of modernity’s advances. These ideas approach ethical justification from the agent’s own point of view, in what I shall call the first person. This more intimate approach to ethics elaborates the thought that ethically justified acts should promote the actor’s success (writ large and not just his narrow self-interest)—that is, his efforts to live according to his own suitable life plan and to achieve his own admirable ends. This theme recalls the venerable Aristotelian tradition according to which morality is not just about the claims that others make against a person but instead serves, as Bernard Williams once helpfully put it, “as an enabling device for the agent’s own life,”1 so that virtue promotes the general well-being or flourishing (in Aristotelian terms, eudaimonia) of the virtuous.2