Aristotle and the Virtues of Will Power

Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2):85-94 (2015)
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Since the 1970s, at least, and presumably under the influence of the later Wittgenstein, certain advocates of Aristotle’s ethics have insisted that a proper validation of the virtues of character must proceed only from within, or be internal to, the particular evaluative outlook provided by possession of the virtues themselves. The most influential advocate of this line of thinking is arguably John McDowell, although Rosalind Hursthouse and Daniel C. Russell have also more recently embraced it. Here I consider whether a distinction between the ‘substantive virtues’ and the ‘virtues of will power’ ultimately threatens that way of thinking about Aristotle’s ethics. If so, it would encourage a different reading of Aristotle’s ethics, one that McDowell has described as a “historical monstrosity”.
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