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Virtue ethics: an anti-moralistic defence

Maria Silvia Vaccarezza


The aim of this paper is to single out four main kinds of ethical moralism, which might be associated to virtue ethics, and to offer a virtue-ethical response to each. By doing so, I aim at defending virtue ethics, properly understood, from the intrinsic danger of a moralistic drift. I begin by proposing a definition of moralism and a list of its main forms. I define moralism as the “perception of a moral judgment as coming from outside the agent”, and I single four main forms out, which I label Inflexibility moralism (IM), Pervasivity moralism (PM), Extremeness moralism (EM) and Unentitlement moralism (UM). Then, I list the main features of the virtue-ethical perspective I embrace, and finally, I argue that such normative approach can prevent a moralistic drift, insofar as it effectively avoids the mentioned charges. Thus, I conclude that a virtue-ethical approach, thanks to its capacity of reconciling reasons and motives, and to its proposing a first-personal perspective on morality, has an advantage in presenting moral requirements in a non-moralistic fashion.


virtue ethics; Aristotle; moralism

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