Swanton, Christine. The Virtue Ethics of Hume & Nietzsche [Book Review]

Ethics 126 (4):1120-1124 (2016)
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This book has a noble aim: to free virtue ethics from the grip of the neo-Aristotelianism that limits its scope in contemporary Anglophone philosophy. Just as there are deontological views that are not Kant’s or even Kantian, just as there are consequentialist views that are not Bentham’s or even utilitarian, so, Swanton contends, there are viable virtue ethical views that are not Aristotle’s or even Aristotelian. Indeed, the history of both Eastern and Western philosophy suggests that the majority of normative ethics has focused primarily on understanding and explaining the nature and development of virtue and vice. There are other alternatives to Aristotle (Mengzi springs to mind), but it’s not unreasonable to start with Hume and Nietzsche, as has already been demonstrated for by Erin Frykholm (“A Humean Particularist Virtue Ethic,” Philosophical Studies, 172(8) [2015]: 2171-91) and myself (Mark Alfano, “The Most Agreeable of All Vices,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 21(4) [2013]: 767-90).
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