Toward Virtue: Moral Progress through Love, Just Attention, and Friendship

In Ingold U. Dalferth & Trevor Kimball (eds.), Love and Justice Consonance or Dissonance? Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, Conference 2016. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr-Siebeck. pp. 217-239 (2019)
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How are love and justice related? Iris Murdoch characterizes the former by drawing on the latter. Love, she maintains, is just attention, which in turn triggers acts of compassion. Arguably, for Murdoch, love is the most important moral activity. By engaging in love, she maintains, moral agents progress on their journey from appearances to reality. Through love, they overcome selfish leanings, acquire a clearer vision of the world and, importantly, other individuals, which in turn enables them to act increasingly well. In this paper, I lay Murdoch’s account of love alongside of Aristotle’s notion of philia. Ultimately, I argue that both Murdochian love and Aristotelian philia are crucial for enabling moral progress. I proceed as follows: First, I introduce Murdoch’s view. I then propose a novel reading of an argument from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics in order to explain what I shall call his necessity claim (NC): philia is necessary to a flourishing life. Along the way, I point out ways in which Murdoch’s and Aristotle’s accounts are mutually illuminating.

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T. Raja Rosenhagen
Ashoka University (Sonipat, India)


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