The Soul, the Virtues, and the Human Good: Comments on Aristotle's Moral Psychology

Kathi Beier


In modern moral philosophy, virtue ethics has developed into one of the major approaches to ethical inquiry. As it seems, however, it is faced with a kind of perplexity similar to the one that Elisabeth Anscombe has described in Modern moral philosophy with regard to ethics in general. For if we assume that Anscombe is right in claiming that virtue ethics ought to be grounded in a sound philosophy of psychology, modern virtue ethics seems to be baseless since it lacks or even avoids reflections on the human soul. To overcome this difficulty, the paper explores the conceptual connections between virtue and soul in Aristotle's ethics. It claims that the human soul is the principle of virtue since reflections on the soul help us to define the nature of virtue, to understand the different kinds of virtues, and to answer the question why human beings need the virtues at all. 


Elisabeth Anscombe, Alasdair MacIntyre, Aristotle, virtue, soul, modern virtue ethics, moral psychology

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