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Print Price: $110.99

288 pp.
138 mm x 216 mm


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP UK

On Virtue Ethics

Rosalind Hursthouse

Virtue ethics is perhaps the most important development within late twentieth-century moral philosophy. Rosalind Hursthouse, who has made notable contributions to this development, now presents a full exposition and defence of her neo-Aristotelian version of virtue ethics. She shows how virtue ethics can provide guidance for action, illuminate moral dilemmas, and bring out the moral significance of the emotions. Deliberately avoiding a combative stance, she finds less disagreement between Kantian and neo-Aristotelian approaches than is usual, and she offers the first account from a virtue ethics perspective of acting 'from a sense of duty'. She considers the question which character traits are virtues, and explores how answers to this question can be justified by appeal to facts about human nature. Written in a clear, engaging style which makes it accessible to non-specialists, On Virtue Ethics will appeal to anyone with an interest in moral philosophy.

Readership : Scholars and students (undergraduate and graduate) of moral philosophy, philosophy of action, and practical ethics; historians of moral philosophy; Aristotelians and Kantians.


  • `'This splendid new book by Rosalind Hursthouse describes a programme for the development of a particular ("Aristotelian") form of virtue ethics. It is intended to be used as a textbook, but should be read by anyone interested in moral philosophy. Hursthouse has been a major contributor to the development of virtue ethics, and the programme she describes, while making use of the many contributions of others, is very much her own, with numerous new ideas and insights.''
    Gilbert Harman, Times Literary Supplement
  • `'Incisive, clear, historically sensitive while addressing contemporary concerns, this book is the comprehensive statement modern virtue ethics has been awaiting for forty years.'

    Roger Crisp, St Anne's College, Oxford
  • `'Rosalind Hursthouse's study of virtue ethics is an exceptionally clear and refreshing treatment of the subject. Fully informed and engaged with the best of contemporary moral philosophy, it breathes philosophical life into the conversation between virtue ethics and Kantian or utilitarian inspired alternatives. Hursthouse's uncommon insight into the texture of ethical life connects the claims of virtue theory with the ways most of us do think about morality and, especially, with the moral tale we tell our children.'

    Barbara Herman, University of California, Los Angeles
  • `'With this book virtue ethics finally comes of age. Hursthouse elegantly dispels the aura of unattractive high-mindedness that has clung to the approach. Firmly rebutting both psychological and moral criticisms, she shows how the life of the virtuous is both possible and even enjoyable. This volume will effortlessly take its place as the defining exposition of the view.'
    Simon Blackburn, University of North Carolina

Action1. Right Action
2. Resolvable Dilemmas
3. Irresolvable and Tragic Dilemmas
Emotion and Motivation4. Aristotle and Kant
5. Virtue and the Emotions
6. The Virtuous Agent's Reasons for Action
7. Moral Motivation
Rationality8. The Virtues Benefit their Possessor
9. Naturalism
10. Naturalism for Rational Animals
11. Objectivity
Bibliography, Index

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Rosalind Hursthouse is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin

Special Features

  • the long-awaited book on ethical theory by an internationally well-known figure in the field
  • Hursthouse is one of the leading exponents of virtue ethics
  • This will be the book to read on the subject
  • Reconciles the two greatest historical influences on ethics: Aristotle and Kant
  • Both an original contribution to the field and an ideal introduction