ARISTOTLE IN THE ETHICS WARS.
Charles Perrault, Le siecle de Louis le Grand
ARISTOTLE'S ETHICAL VIEWS HAVE played a starring role in contemporary debates. Among those struggling to unseat the prevailing subjectivism or noncognitivism of twentieth-century ethics, some prominent figures have turned to the history of philosophy to understand better the emergence of the metaphysical picture thought to undergird this prevalence. The intellectual dominance and respectability of the modern sciences is sometimes credited with casting doubt on the status of truth-claims in ethics, since the latter seem to lack comparable truth-makers, methods of verification, or patterns of convergence. Many ethicists today accept the force of arguments based on the so-called is-ought gap or, following J. L. Mackie, the "argument from queerness." (1) Ethical statements are treated as fundamentally different in kind from statements about the natural world. Not only this, but their status as truth-apt is thought to suffer by comparison. Ethical claims are variously reinterpreted by noncognitivists as reflecting commitments, desires, or feelings of the participants, rather than as literal truth-claims.
Yet, in the latter half of the twentieth century, some prominent ethicists have challenged this picture and urged the strength of Aristotle's outlook as a potent alternative. The challenges at issue are those that question the status of the very worldview that has given rise to noncognitivism. A number of major ethical works can be seen as implicitly responding to Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy" (1958). These include MacIntyre's After Virtue (1981), Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (1985), McDowell's "Two Sorts of Naturalism" (1996), Korsgaard's The Sources of Normativity (1996), and Foot's Natural Goodness (2001). (2) These challengers have quite different projects, and echo different features of Anscombe's original article. But they are alike in that they offer competing historical narratives, aimed at challenging contemporary noncognitivism. All consider whether Aristotelian ethics could be a contender for an alternative ethical framework. (3)
The works listed above present very different accounts of Aristotle's thought and its applicability to contemporary ethics. A point that Korsgaard treats as Aristotle's weakness--the centrality of the appeal to human nature--Foot regards as a strength. Williams is ambivalent: he sees a commitment to ethical naturalism as central to the coherence of Aristotle's view but also as an aspect that makes it unavailable to modern audiences. (4) McDowell, conversely, denies that Aristotle intended to make any such appeal. (5) Williams regards Aristotle's naturalism as a search for foundations; Korsgaard and McDowell deny that he could even have appreciated the necessity for grounding ethical claims.
The philosophers considered here include some of the most eminent ethicists of the second half of the previous century: clearly, this controversy is worth exploring. My focus in this paper is on the appropriation of Aristotelian ideas in the late twentieth century "ethics wars." Anscombe is widely credited with reviving virtue ethics, but it is not always appreciated that she also and simultaneously initiated a style of ethical theorizing that uses historical narrative to understand the contemporary landscape and to challenge its core assumptions. We can learn from the differences among the various narratives just how ideologically laden these histories can be, and how the assumptions they make about the metaphysical views of past ages play into their metaethical conclusions. While Foot's "neo-Aristotelian naturalism" is widely regarded as the heir to Anscombe, I suggest that there is a distinct thread in Anscombe's article leading in another direction altogether, and which lies behind the projects developed by MacIntyre, Williams, McDowell, and even Korsgaard. That this thread also leads to a better reading of Aristotle is a larger claim that I shall not argue here. (6)
The Uses of History I: An Old Story. In The Sources of Normativity, Korsgaard begins from a supposition that the question whence normative constraints arise is an exclusively modern one. (7) The rough picture used to bolster this claim is that, for the ancient Greeks, the belief that the world is teleologically ordered forms the metaphysical underpinning to the notion that ethical demands are binding on all. The claim that virtue represents our own natural direction of development is supposed to have seemed sufficient reason--to Aristotle--why we should be moral.
On this view, inquiry into the origin and obligatory power of normative constraints would not have been considered a serious question, but rather a symptom of some failing in the person asking it. (8) Korsgaard claims that it would have seemed credible to the ancients--as it did not to the moderns, living in a disenchanted universe--that the natural world was normatively informed: "Plato and Aristotle came to believe that value is more real than experienced fact, indeed that the real world is, in a way, value itself." (9) Only the "disenchantment" of the modern world picture brought metaethical questions to the fore. (10) In the modern world, by contrast, the idea that Form is somehow embedded in nature lost credibility. Korsgaard uses "Form" to stand in for whatever principles were thought to govern the proper direction of organic development: the means whereby the directionality of change was supposedly embedded in the natural world. This account of natural development, she tells us, could no longer be sustained against the background of modern materialism.
The two questions Korsgaard thus sees as distinctively modern are, whence normative claims originate, and why they should be regarded as authoritative. (11) Korsgaard offers only a brief caricature of premodern ethical thought: her point is to invoke a historical platitude that Plato and Aristotle--sometimes "the ancients" (12)--did not engage in the kind of second-order reflection about the sources of normativity that preoccupies modern philosophy. This opposition of ancient and modern has a distinguished pedigree, but it is not unproblematic. Her claim would be plainly false if it were that Plato and Aristotle were unaware of challenges to teleological naturalism. Rather, she states that it might have seemed credible in antiquity, as it does not in the modern world, that ethical striving is simply part of our nature and thus not in need of defense. A modern worldview--where the material world has come to be regarded as "reluctant, recalcitrant, resistant"--made it incredible that some form embedded in nature provides the grounding for moral demands, thus prompting reflection on the metaphysical grounding of ethical demands. (13)
Korsgaard's point in sketching this narrative is to present a specific response--the Kantian notion of obligation--as the culmination of a historical process. (14) "The ancients" are considered by Korsgaard only as a precursor to the modern perspective, inasmuch as the appeal to divine legislation is purported to have filled a perceived gap or failing in earlier ethical thought. As Korsgaard acknowledges, the historical narrative she summarizes is vaguely formulated; (15) it is also problematic as a historical account. (16) Are we to believe that the rise of the Judeo-Christian morality was instigated by a loss of faith in the notion that Form is embedded in nature? This triumphal narrative likely originates with seventeenth-century Christian philosophers seeking to demonstrate the superiority of their own metaphysical picture. (17) It is striking to see this "Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns" resurrected.
Korsgaard locates the divide between ancient and modern squarely with the modern scientific worldview (18): the rise of modern metaethics is traced to works by Grotius (1625), Hobbes (1651), and Pufendorf (1675). (19) Such an early dating with respect to the Scientific Revolution may problematize the claim that it is the disenchantment of the world that allows for metaphysical questions about the sources of ethics that were unavailable to the ancient Greeks. And while it is undoubtedly the case that certain assumptions about the nature of the physical world were sharpened and clarified at the time of the emergence of the early modern sciences, it is not at all clear that a sharp divide exists between the reflective abilities of ancients and moderns merely because of this. The variety of ethical positions formulated in antiquity belies the notion that the rise of modern science and the failure of the "traditional" answers in a disenchanted universe are necessary triggers for second-order reflection on the source and grounds of ethical claims. Korsgaard's history may be offered lightheartedly, but it has problematic implications, particularly when it reinforces mistaken assumptions about Aristotle's naivete. (20)
Korsgaard's history stands in marked contrast to that offered by Elizabeth Anscombe, which juxtaposed modern and Aristotelian perspectives to make a quite different point. Most overtly, whereas Korsgaard saw Kantianism as a response that could survive into a secular era, Anscombe dismissed Kant's notion of self-legislation as "absurd." (21) Korsgaard stressed Kant's replacement of the idea of a divine lawgiver with that of self-legislation; for Anscombe, conversely, the entire language of ethics based on a legislative model was no longer viable, given the breakdown of the accompanying metaphysics. More important for present purposes, however, are their differing views on the viability of Aristotle's ethics. Korsgaard regards Aristotle as a naive naturalist, whereas Anscombe sought to challenge some modern errors that are based on a fact-value distinction Aristotle simply did not make. An implication of Anscombe's narrative is that, if Aristotle embraced a position that for modern philosophers requires much sophisticated argument, this may be a comment on our ideological blinders and not on his.
Although Korsgaard does not refer to "Modern Moral Philosophy," I suggest that we can best understand the historical narrative that opens The Sources of Normativity as an alternative to Anscombe's; this is also true of the narratives in MacIntyre's After Virtue, Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, and McDowell's "Two Sorts of Naturalism." Anscombe may also be responsible for the emphasis, among contemporary readers, on Aristotle's appeal to human nature as a source of ethical norms. Certainly Foot, Williams, and perhaps MacIntyre--who share Anscombe's concern to resist the prevailing subjectivism of twentieth-century ethics--take its teleological naturalism to be the appeal of Aristotelian virtue ethics. But there is a different way to read Anscombe: as suggesting that Aristotelian ethics offers viable ethical resources not because he drew on human nature, but because he looked to social practices to ground the authority of the ethical.
For Anscombe, the contrast between ancient and modern ethics is not the triumphant development of metaethical reflectivity. Rather, the division came about with the modern creation of an artificial need to justify ethics to its audience, because of a restricted view about the kinds of facts that could legitimately ground knowledge claims. Anscombe's account implicitly challenges the assumption that the modern preoccupation with the authority of morality results from our possession of a more sophisticated world picture: nothing--on her picture--would prevent our returning to Aristotelian conceptions. While Korsgaard saddles Aristotle with a faith in the naturalness of ethics that is now simply unsustainable, we might read Anscombe rather as seeking to undermine the robustness of the fact-value distinction that supports this assessment. Anscombe's challenge to the fact-value distinction denies that modern ethicists--expelled from the Garden of Eden of naive naturalism--are left with only subjectivist means to ground ethical claims.
Anscombe notes that many everyday concepts--not just ethical terms--make sense only against a background of institutional practices that share both descriptive and normative aspects. She showed how the truth of the claim that someone owes money depends on a rich structure of social norms. Attempting to describe the events that lead up to the existence of a debt in purely descriptive or behavioral terms would produce the same alleged "gap" as that between "is" and "ought" statements. (22) In a similar spirit, Paul Grice offered the example of marriage as an institution that could be dismissed as nonexistent by applying the arguments of modern "error theorists" about the ethical. (23) The problem is not that the metaphysics of earlier times was too permissive, but rather that ours is too narrow.
The belief that a sharp divide exists between descriptive and evaluative is central to the twentieth-century discourse that offended Anscombe. (24) The metaphysics Anscombe decries is not necessarily that required by the modern sciences; rather, it is one presupposing a positivist reading of their implications. (25) It is perfectly possible to welcome the knowledge gained from the modern sciences without supposing that they render other nonempirical discourses suspect. (26) The spare landscape of positivism created the environment in which noncognitivist metaethics flowered, since it bars us from knowing much that we might otherwise take ourselves to know. Challenging the significance for ethical discourse of the supposed is-ought or fact--value gap may be the farthest reaching aspect of Anscombe's complex article. She resituates ethics among other social practices, implicitly challenging the suggestion that there is anything "queer" about normative facts. (27) What Williams came to call "thick" concepts, along with the idea that the norms internal to social practices are truth-apt, vindicate the possibility that veracity could reasonably apply to action-guiding statements. These ideas have been developed in various ways by subsequent philosophers--MacIntyre, Williams, McDowell, even Korsgaard--who have explored various ways of reinstating ethical discourse in the realm of the truth-apt. Rather than appealing to a foundationalist naturalism to cross the is-ought gap, Anscombe may best be read as challenging the coherence of that divide.
The opening sally of "Modern Moral Philosophy" laments the modern classification of the moral, as opposed to a part of the broader category of ethical evaluation that is found in Aristotle. (28) The moral realm is viewed as an area of life defined by other-directed concern and self-sacrifice, in conflict with self-interest, so that the question why we should be motivated to accept its demands might come to seem particularly pressing. A tendency to think that the language of "ought" has a special moral sense--one not grounded in human or social facts--is, by implication, what led modern moral philosophers to create an artificial problem about the sources of normativity. From this perspective, the difference is not that ancient ethicists failed to recognize a need for justification because they naively saw the world as normatively laden, but rather that modern schools of thought created a pseudoproblem by dividing the world of facts from that of norms.
Anscombe regarded the contemporary belief in the groundlessness of notions like "good" or "wrong" as ethically dangerous, since it leads philosophers to treat as open questions what should be unthinkable. (29) Our philosophical deafness arises because "thin" notions like "good" or "right" have been torn from their moorings. She suggested that philosophers confused about the ground for notions of good or right would do better to restrict themselves to thick ethical concepts like "chaste" or "cruel," that is, those that still retain some substantive content to guide our deliberations. (30) We still retain robust intuitions about these, and make fewer of the kind of serious mistakes that horrified her in her contemporaries' abstract and metaphysically rootless ethical ruminations. (31)
Anscombe's own historical account of the rise of subjectivism and the shift away from the notion of ethics as truth-apt is not the aspect of her account that is most convincing. Anscombe treats our current moral notion of obligation as grounded in belief in a legislator God: (32) she suggests that subjectivism results from the collapse of that faith, leaving our moral discourse essentially meaningless. But as MacIntyre noted, this holds only if divine command were understood according to a voluntarist and not a Thomistic interpretation. (33) Two competing accounts of divine legislation flourished in the Middle Ages: the Thomistic, realist version, according to which God's decrees mirror the antecedent goodness in the world; and the Occamist or voluntarist version, according to which goodness is created by divine fiat. MacIntyre argues that only a voluntarist interpretation would have supplanted Aristotle's ethics, had it prevailed. Rather, the Thomistic Christianity that became the dominant view treats divine decree as rationally defensible and based on a notion of a metaphysically prior good. Such a good would be accessible by human reason without revelation, and also compatible with Aristotelian natural teleology. (34) Thomistic Christian metaphysics in fact incorporates Aristotelian metaphysics to a considerable degree.
MacIntyre traces the influence of Stoic as well as Christian notions of law in the modern world, and notes the degree to which Stoicism mediated the incorporation of virtue ethics into medieval thought, preparing the way for modern moral philosophy. (35) Stoicism--because of its fatalist metaphysics--emphasized the role of the good intention rather than the achievement of the goal, and moreover adapted ethics to an era in which the decline of the moral community made it less likely that moral action would contribute to the good of the individual. (36) MacIntyre thus offers an important addendum to Anscombe, in that he traces a considerably more complex and convincing history of ethics. (37) He is particularly concerned to show how the Aristotelian virtue approach persisted and infused Christian thought, only to be supplanted by the Enlightenment project. The Enlightenment, with its faith in human reason as a source of value, led to the denial of the authority of other sources of ethical guidance grounded in ways of living, evolving traditions, or the thick ethical language of every day. In Long's neat summary:
Three specific mistakes, according to MacIntyre, occurred when liberal individualism began to oust the Aristotelian tradition--the abandonment of ethical teleology, the severance of the virtues from socially defined roles, and the widespread belief that moral judgments cannot be treated as statements of fact. (38)
On MacIntyre's account, the Christian appeal to divine decree did not, in fact, replace virtue ethics or fill a perceived gap in the Aristotelian view: the latter continued to inform medieval and early modern ethical thought. This more complex history weakens any argument for a sharp divide between ancient and modern, or for one that coincides with the Scientific Revolution.
MacIntyre shares Anscombe's rejection of the notion that the fact-value distinction is a timeless truth discovered from within the modern disenchanted worldview, rather than a normative view in its own right. Charles Taylor notes that MacIntyre sees subjectivist ethics as heir to the nominalist rejection of Aristotelianism. (39) Just as some advocates of divine will saw more potential for divine power in a morally neutral picture of the universe, so modern advocates of human autonomy sought to promote the dignity of human beings by downplaying the normative standing of the natural world. Emotivists, that is, put over their "ethic of disengaged freedom" as timeless truth. (40)
We find--in reviewing various alternative historical narratives--just how thoroughly ideological considerations shape the telling of history, and especially the formulation of an opposition between ancient and modern. The distinctions drawn between the ancient and the modern ethical outlooks are, importantly, based on supposed changes in views about the nature of the natural world and our knowledge of it. But there are various explanations on offer of the reasons for the divide. Anscombe credited the rise and fall of Judeo-Christian ethics, with its legislator model. Korsgaard and McDowell view the modern concern with metaethics as a response to the scientific disenchantment of the world; MacIntyre credits the Enlightenment notion of the individual. Williams ascribed the distinction between ancient and modern in part to heightened awareness of cultural relativity. (41) We might view the latter as explanadum rather than explanans: ancient Greek ethicists were perfectly aware of cultural variation. We still need to explain why moderns are inclined to lose confidence in their own views in the face of variation, rather than to conclude that their own practices are nonetheless superior.
Whether Aristotle has anything to offer us today depends upon our conception of the modern malaise, and whether the chasm that separates us from antiquity is unbridgeable. For Anscombe, the Aristotelian schema had much to recommend it as an alternative to the subjectivism she found so ethically problematic. At least it shows us a way to do ethics without a divine legislator, (42) since Aristotelian ethics focuses on thick virtue concepts.
Anscombe claimed that an adequate approach to ethics required a better grounded psychology, without saying much about what that might entail. Christopher Mole notes that Anscombe's concerns about our understanding of the mind resonated with currents in the larger intellectual background. (43) 1958 was a high point in the flowering of an anxiety and a backlash by those who resisted seeing human abilities as amenable to reduction and analysis. Anscombe's particular concern was with our understanding of the notion of intentional action. (44) She had just published a book on intention; several of her essays on ethics address puzzles arising from the complex relationship between intending and responsibility. Additionally, she thought that we also need a better understanding of the Aristotelian claim that flourishing consists in the exercise of the virtues. (45) We certainly could not understand this notion from within a perspective that takes human desires as brute "givens," rather than as aspects of the developing dispositions that constitute the Aristotelian virtues. Anscombe seems to be suggesting that Aristotle's own developmental picture of the relationship among choice, action, and affection would be better placed to make sense of such a picture than twentieth-century psychology.
Anscombe's complex paper had an enormous impact on ethicists, despite its obscurities. It is seldom noted that the article offers two distinct suggestions as to how an Aristotelian virtue ethics might help us escape the lures of subjectivism. One is the suggestion that the virtues are truth-apt because they are linked to an account of human nature; the other is that they are truth-apt because they are grounded in human practice. The two ideas are not necessarily incompatible, but they have been pursued in different directions by subsequent philosophers.
The Uses of History II: Refinements and Responses. Anscombe considers a number of different ways that philosophers might try, in the absence of belief in a divine lawgiver, to ground the notion of obligation. One of several possibilities she considers is that the virtues can be seen as norms of a kind for human beings. (46) It is one of several options countenanced, and receives only a short paragraph: it is not explicitly endorsed, but it looks like the last man standing. This is the line of inquiry pursued by Philippa Foot, who takes the appeal to natural norms to offer an escape from noncognitivist ethics. Foot--and Rosalind Hursthourse, who follows her lead in many respects (47)--develop a virtue ethics based on the notion that human nature provides a grounding for the truth of value claims. As I shall show, the robustness of the naturalism either becomes untenable or is deeply qualified. Other readers follow a different thread in Anscombe's thought, namely, that of recognizing the truth-claims of specific features of ethical discourse, that is, thick concepts and the internal evaluation of practices. Rather than accepting the fact-value divide and trying to resolve it by grounding the evaluative in the natural, these readers take up Anscombe's challenge to the cogency of that divide. This latter thread avoids the problems that emerge from the Footean project and has yielded independently interesting and fruitful philosophical programs.
Bernard Williams's Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy clearly formulates the former line of thought. He thinks it is Aristotle's view, but not a position that can be accepted today. Although Anscombe's name is mentioned only once in a footnote, Williams's book can be read as a more skeptical response to Anscombe's suggestion that Aristotle's ethics constitutes a viable alternative for modern ethicists. Williams reads Aristotelian natures as intended to provide an "Archimedean point" or external point of leverage by which we can justify morality to doubters or scoffers. (48) Plato's amoralist Callicles stars as the emblematic challenger. (49)
Williams takes Aristotle to be offering a substantive promise of well-being via the appeal to human nature. This promise--the idea that we have real interests and not just subjective preferences--is meant to provide the rationale for ethics. (50) We have, as he puts it, an "inner nisus" toward developing civic virtue. (51) Williams himself is skeptical of this vision. For one, our psychology may well be such that evil pays off, at least judging by the naturalist's standard of the "bright eye and the gleaming coat." (52) For another, many different ethical visions are compatible with human nature and could conflict both with one another and with other legitimate pursuits. Williams reads Aristotle as attempting to justify morality as being in the real interests of everyone, even those too corrupt to be persuaded. (53) This depends, he believes, on a teleological picture, wherein it is feasible to believe that nature provides for the well-being of individuals and provides reason to believe that actualizing our nature is a desirable and achievable goal.
Williams distinguishes this "Archimedean" ethical naturalism from a broader, more general notion that defines itself merely in opposition to the supernatural, asserting that ethical properties are part of the natural world. (54) The Archimedean notion, importantly, allows for the possibility of investigating and establishing substantive ethical truths from a value-neutral perspective and, moreover, of justifying the claims of ethics as "good for" recalcitrant individuals--whatever their subjective beliefs--on account of its possession of some value-independent facts about what it takes for human beings to flourish. Williams doubts, however, that such an ethical theory could be revived. The modern sciences suggest that natural norms are geared toward reproductive fitness--a very different goal--and leave us no reason for confidence that nature favors individual flourishing. (55)
Philippa Foot disagrees that the appeal to human nature is otiose as a philosophical alternative. First in some papers and then in the monograph, Natural Goodness, Foot follows Anscombe's lead in looking for an alternative to contemporary noncognitivism. Foot finds considerable appeal in the idea that human nature offers ethics a nonarbitrary ground. Her notion that virtue ethics can offer a nonsubjective basis for the account of goodness rests on notions she calls "Aristotelian necessity" and "Aristotelian categoricals." (56) Foot seeks to ground virtue ethics on the notion of "kinds." Like MacIntyre, (57) she draws on the notion that, as beings with functions, there is a notion of good built into our very nature. Foot draws on the work of Michael Thompson, who developed a suggestion first raised by Anscombe. Thompson articulates the notion of an "Aristotelian categorical," a distinctive kind of claim evident in statements about what was typical or appropriate for members of a species-kind. (58) His point is that statements like "cats are four-legged" articulate natural norms: they may not be true of every member, and yet they are more than statistical generalizations. A cat failing to have four legs would be judged defective. Not all abnormalities in species members would count as defects. Foot contrasts the blue tit that lacks a colored patch on its head with a peacock that lacks a bright-colored tail. Supposing that the colored patch plays no important function for the blue tit, as the tail does in the reproductive life of the peacock, she characterizes the latter lack as a defect, the former not. (59) The notion of species functions is thus critical to the view.
Knowing what makes us good thus requires studying human nature. Foot announces herself to be "quite seriously, likening the basis of moral evaluation to that of the evaluation of behaviour in animals." (60) She takes the resistance to this idea to come from the hold of emotivist or prescriptivist ways of thinking. (61) It is because we have artificially separated moral from natural evaluation that we are driven to seek some nonnatural grounding for the former. The connection between ethics and the evaluation of animals lies in the idea that virtues cluster around practices that are essential to furthering the human good. Foot turns to Anscombe's paper "Promising and its Justice," in which Anscombe notes that many human endeavours depend on our being able to bind one another to future action, and stresses the necessity of promising to bring this about. Foot takes from this paper the notion that virtues are grounded in the human good: virtues, that is, are considered part of human ethology. (62) They facilitate the characteristic behaviors that are required to qualify as good specimens of a kind. (63) For Foot, natural norms are meant to be the ultimate ground; they are not justified on, say, utilitarian grounds. (64) In evaluating one another ethically, then, we are using "good" in much the same way as a judge at a dog and pony show. However, what we assess in one another is the mastery of practical reason and the working of the will.
Foot is attracted by the notion that vices can be seen as defects. While this term may have a reassuringly objective appeal to ethicists floundering in the quagmire of twentieth-century noncognitivism, it is not clear how consistently Foot takes biological nature to be a source of norms. As Woodcock notes, there is some unclarity whether she intends to apply the language of "defect" to natural disabilities in human beings, or how she would address the potentially offensive implications of a hierarchical evaluative schema. (65) Foot and Hursthouse reject some of the kinds of conclusions that might seem to fall out from infusing our biological heritage with ethical weight. Although both accept that reproduction is a natural norm, neither are willing to deem individuals who practice celibacy or homosexuality as thereby ethically defective. (66) Foot's account offers too little detail for a definitive reading and has been read in two different ways. As FitzPatrick notes, it remains indeterminate whether her account intends to posit nature as an external or Archimedean foundation. To what she is explicitly committed is the existence of a single evaluative framework for the evaluation of animal traits and human virtues. (67) The insistence on this unitary evaluative framework, despite the acknowledged differences that come with human rationality, is critical to considering the norms at issue natural, but leaves unanswered questions about how the parallel between animal and human traits is meant to work. Readers diverge on whether they think Foot's notion of "nature" is meant to be a contemporary scientifically grounded one, or whether in fact she requires an Aristotelian teleological framework to ground the notions she proposes to adopt. She needs the idea that some characteristics are functional to ground the notion of species norms: this notion, widely used in Aristotle, is more problematic in a context where species forms are not permanent and enduring features of the world but contingent and evolving. (68) Since Foot claims that the natural norms she appeals to are "facts," (69) independent of value judgments or desires, (70) some readers think she views nature as a kind of value-neutral grounding for ethical claims. (71) The supposed clarity of the appeal to natural norms is, commentators have argued, deceptive, if it is intended to suggest that these norms can be established scientifically. Even for nonhuman animals, there are difficulties with the attempt to read natural norms from species functions. (72) If the claim that species forms are functional is to avoid the appearance of tautology, it must be at least conceivable that there are things for which no function can be discovered, like the human appendix. But in order to determine which traits are functional and which not, we need to be able to determine what a creature of a given kind is meant to be doing.
If a normative framework is already in place, of course, that determination can be made. But for functions to be determined empirically, we need to make reference to the selection history of a species. (73) FitzPatrick argues that any ahistorical attempt to assess the functionality of traits lacks a principled way to distinguish functional traits from incidental benefits. Without this, there is no way to determine which traits are beneficial or who the intended beneficiary is. (74) Any teleological account needs some account of why given outcomes are "no accident." In artifacts, we refer to the designer; in organisms, the natural selection history of the species plays that role. (75) An ahistorical, eudaimonistic account can appeal to neither.
There are difficulties with relying on contemporary biology to provide an ethical foundation, and some who read Foot as doing so accuse her of ignorance. In evolutionary biology, the current view of the selection pressures is not that they favor the survival or well-being of the individual or the good of the species, but rather that they promote the survival and reproduction of those individuals who are genetically most similar. (76) Such a perspective is out of step with major ethical convictions. The idea that the good of human beings as a species is a natural norm may not, then, be validated by contemporary science. (77) To more sympathetic readers, however, Foot's natural norms are not intended to be based on modern science. Copp and Sobel note that Foot focuses on the notion of a life-form, a notion that is not clearly grounded in biological criteria. (78) John Hacker-Wright defends Foot from the charge that she is mistaken about contemporary biology, arguing that her naturalism never intends to appeal to a notion of human nature that is "scientific" or external to the evaluative perspective. He argues that the notion of "kind" at work in Thompson's "Aristotelian categoricals"-a notion on which Foot relies heavily--is not that of biological species but rather a logical notion. (79)
Suppose we ask what it means to identify an individual organism as such, and not simply as a random collection of parts. To do so requires viewing it in functional terms. A naturalist encountering an unfamiliar object and deciding that it is alive--because it eats, walks, and reproduces--is attributing functionality to the object. This is a holistic judgment and not an empirical observation. Absent the notion that the object is a functional unit, he might have perceived it as a mere heap that is increasing, moving about, or being divided. A bear eating a salmon is not merely adding more material to a heap, but is transforming salmon-flesh into bear-flesh capable of realizing bear-functions. To reproduce is not merely to divide but to produce an offspring with similar functional capacities. Thus to identify an organism as such presupposes that we recognize an object as something with functions, goals, and needs. (80) This is not a simple matter of observation. (81) Moreover, it presupposes an entire conceptual apparatus, and one that is normatively laden. The very notion of an organism presupposes norms and hence a right way for things of that kind to be. Hence any normative guidance drawn from investigation of nature seems to be presupposed, and not derived from an Archimedean point. (82) Even more seriously, as FitzPatrick noted, the notion of a life-form cannot distinguish between functional and nonfunctional traits. (83) Yet Archimedean naturalism needs the notion that some traits are functional in order to determine which deviations from statistical norms are to be considered defects. Only value-laden choices can do this.
On Hacker-Wright's reading of Foot, our ethical life-world requires us to see the world as inhabited by organisms with norms and natures. The very act of classification brings commitments with it: to see ourselves as human imposes certain norms and requirements on the ways we can be. The argument seems to be that we need to see ourselves as species-kinds with inherent norms, whatever direction contemporary biology may take. If so, the teleological biology that Aristotle articulated may in fact be closer to the ethically relevant notion of a life-world than the drive to gene-replication found in contemporary biology. Hacker-Wright stresses that the use of "nature" is one of "internal observations" and not of "scientific detachment." (84) Nature is no fulcrum here.
On this reading of Foot's neo-Aristotelianism, the relevant Aristotelian categoricals are the traits we need in order to count as agents. Virtues are not presented as requirement for flourishing, well-being, or happiness, but rather as requirements to achieve agency. (85) We can understand ourselves only as acting--rather than making random movements--against a set of background assumptions about what is appropriate for creatures sharing our form of life. Describing behavior as intentional, that is, requires making sense of it as rational and hence requires interpreting it in terms of the typical desires, aims, and functions of beings of a given kind. Hacker-Wright acknowledges that his reading makes Foot's view more Kantian--and less obviously "naturalistic"--than it appears. (86) Hursthouse's version of Footean virtue ethics also concludes, explicitly, that evaluation is "Neurathian": (87) human nature does not serve as an external, validating point but is rather a matter of reflective endorsement of those aspects of our biological heritage we choose to affirm. No plank on the boat is immune to revision. (88) Human nature may be the source of many of our evaluative positions, but it is no longer the justification: the position is closer to what Korsgaard calls "reflective endorsement" than to naturalism. (89) Thus, we are left with the realization that the most viable version of the Footean interpretation of Aristotelian virtue ethics--in the eyes of its own advocates--is not one that regards the appeal to a biological conception of nature as justificatory.
While Foot is not doing Aristotle scholarship, the popularity and accessibility of Natural Goodness may have contributed to the perception that Aristotle is an Archimedean naturalist, and that an Aristotelian naturalism might be updated and adapted to modern biology. While Williams recognizes that Aristotle's view of nature is not entirely empirical, he takes it to be trying to provide an external grounding for the demands of ethics. Writing in a Festschrift for Philippa Foot, John McDowell criticized the motivation for the reading of Aristotle offered by Foot and Williams. (90) McDowell offers an alternative reading of the history of philosophy, according to which the supposition that Aristotle must have sought a foundation for the objectivity of ethics is "metaphysically shallow." (91) McDowell argued that the modern preoccupation with seeking foundations in the natural world resulted from the mistaken assumption that a globally disenchanted or empiricist perspective is required by those who accept the truths of the modern sciences. Aristotle, in his view, would not have shared that motivation. (92)
Philippa Foot is often cast as Anscombe's heir, and certainly she is the only one of the four authors I listed initially to relate her project explicitly to Anscombe's. Ironically, however, the appeal to a naturalist foundation plays a minor role in Anscombe's article. Most of the work is devoted to a rather different project, namely, the discovery of ethical resources that bridge the supposed normative-descriptive divide, not a foundation external to it. Both via her analysis of virtue language and through her account of social practices, she shows how our life-world is laced through with concepts that are simultaneously and irrevocably descriptive and normative. The two threads of argument--that virtues are natural norms and that we have existing resources in our language that bridge the fact-value gap--would lead philosophers in rather different directions. Williams, MacIntyre, McDowell, and even Korsgaard adopt resources of the second kind in developing their distinctive approaches, leaving aside the notion of natural norms.
Williams adopts the appeal to so-called thick ethical concepts as a starting point for theorizing. (93) Elsewhere, he developed the notion that an individual ethical life is structured around various long-term projects and commitments. MacIntyre also continues Anscombe's project of showing how ethical practice requires us to accommodate concepts that bridge the fact-value divide. (94) He challenges the apparent commonsensicality of taking the empiricist perspective to encompass all that there is, rather than recognizing it as a value-laden perspective, legitimate in its own place but never possessing an exclusive license to access truth. He sees virtues as making sense against the background of significant collective activities developed by human communities to fulfill particular purposes. He stresses that these practices have internal goals as well as external ones, and that the virtues are understood from within a perspective associated with such practices, not derived from a descriptive account of our biological nature. (95) Thereby, MacIntyre develops Anscombe's notion of social facts. Ethical action is not about independent choices made in a vacuum, but about ongoing, stable traits and dispositions appropriate to the ways of living we exemplify and practice. Both Williams and MacIntyre can be seen as developing Anscombeian resources to reduce the seeming arbitrariness of ethical choice, by situating choices within long-term commitments and socially grounded ways of living. Both projects are thus developments of Anscombe's suggestion that the descriptive and the normative may not be an exclusive disjunction.
McDowell shares in the project of challenging the rise of noncognitivism and of rescuing the truth-claims of ethics. He seeks to defend the notion of practical rationality, arguing that ethical reflection does not collapse into subjectivity and that "practical thought should be allowed its aspiration to objectivity." (96) Where he sees Foot and Williams going astray is in accepting a Humean, "disenchanted" conception of the world and reading Aristotle in those terms. McDowell does not deny the value of taking the perspective required for scientific investigation; what he objects to is the assumption that this perspective becomes global, offering exclusive access to objective truth or to reality. Practical reasoning, in his view, requires no external validation, and Aristotle did not suppose that it did. (97)
McDowell denies that human nature is viewed by Aristotle as either value-neutral or susceptible to empirical investigation. McDowell particularly rejects Foot's notion that Aristotle's ethics centers on the appeal to natural norms. He takes Foot to be assuming that a substantive appeal to "first nature" or biological nature provides an external ground for ethical norms. McDowell doubts that the appeal to species norms can be authoritative over individuals, given the role that practical reason plays in our lives. No rational creature need think itself bound by Aristotelian categoricals. Any conception of rationality robust enough to allow us to reason practically would also enable us to step back individually from the traits that are typical of our species, so that an account of the authority of ethics cannot depend on our "first nature." Claiming that a vicious individual is defective by species norms would carry little weight with the individual free-rider. (98)
McDowell stresses, against the naturalist reading of Aristotle, how few substantive appeals to human nature can be found in the Nicomachean Ethics. His own proposal is that reflection on our commitments from within the ethical perspective--"Neurathian" reflection--allows human nature to set certain limits on the shape of ethical life, without serving as an Archimedean point to validate any specific mandate. McDowell denies that Aristotle is self-consciously adopting any such distinction, however. Elsewhere, McDowell provides more clarity as to why he doubts that Aristotle can reasonably be taken to have striven for objectivity in ethics. He argues that the loss of confidence in rational reflection on the nature of ethics is a modern preoccupation, that only against the background of this loss of confidence does it make sense to describe a view as self-consciously Neurathian, that is, engaged in a project of revision from within. (99) Thus McDowell regards Aristotle as philosophically naive with respect to questions that, he thinks, only arise within the metaphysics of the so-called disenchanted universe. (100)
Unfortunately, this seems to leave Aristotle saddled with the implication that he did not reflect on the justification for his ethical theory. (101) The oddity is that McDowell, like Anscombe, draws many resources from Aristotle's work. We are left wondering why these Aristotelian resources turn out to prove so appropriate, if Aristotle was ignorant of the very questions to which his philosophy now provides such rich answers. Unlike Anscombe, who thought we could go back to Aristotelian conceptions, McDowell's picture suggests that the gap is unbridgeable. McDowell is not alone in this hermeneutic stance, as Korsgaard draws many resources from Aristotle while denying that he could have been aware of the reasons why they are so applicable in a modern context. (102) The aptness of Aristotle's ideas to the modern predicament, I believe, should puzzle these thinkers more than it does.
Ethics after Anscombe. A number of lessons can be learned from this survey. I have been examining several important attempts, from the second half of the twentieth century, to look back on the history of ethical thought and to try to understand the nature of the divide between our own moral outlook and Aristotle's. These are serious attempts by wise and thoughtful philosophers. Most suggest that Aristotle has resources to offer contemporary ethics, even while recognizing that a looming historical chasm remains to be crossed if those resources are to be meaningfully deployed. They have, unsurprisingly, different views on how and what can be saved from the wreckage. The "Anscombean Revival"--if such a term might be used to classify so diverse a group of thinkers--seeks to resurrect resources borrowed from an Aristotelian framework, resources that were abandoned by the adherents to a strict fact-value distinction.
Although turning to human nature as an external grounding may have seemed to Foot and Williams to be the key to Anscombe's critique, I have argued that Anscombe's article focuses more attention on dissolving the fact-value divide, not finding a way to cross it. Virtues, thick ethical concepts, social practices--perhaps even Korsgaard's practical identities--are different versions of the attempt to reclaim the facticity of ethical language, without seeking an Archimedean point. This reading of Anscombe better reflects the overall argument of the article and also avoids difficulties with any attempt to ground ethics on an empirically validated conception of human nature. Both strands within Anscombe's work present alternatives to noncognitivism, inasmuch as they show how to recover the notion that ethical facts play a role in our moral discourse. The advocates of each disagree about the historical reasons why this vision of the ethical life was rejected, and whether the reasons for that rejection can be renegotiated.
Anscombe's history has been amended. Any narrative about the history of ethical thought or Western metaphysics needs to make assumptions about who "we" are, and MacIntyre is surely right that this notion of a tradition can be constituted only if it is assumed that ancient Greek ideas are not merely replaced by a Judeo-Christian alternative--if so, then what are the Greeks to us?--but incorporated into it. The recognition that Aristotelian virtue ethics was not supplanted by Christianity but continued to infuse ethical thought well into the modern world--suitably transformed, of course, and with some revisions of the canonical list of virtues--is critical to recognizing the viability of that resuscitation project. "Virtue" has an old-fashioned ring, but it is the ring of language deeply embedded in modern literature and thought, not a mistranslation from the ancient Greek. That tradition is surely what licenses us to modify Aristotle's list, without abandoning the notion of cultural continuity. Thus there is good reason to accept MacIntyre's amplification and revision of Anscombe's historical narrative.
It is customary to view Anscombe as reviving virtue ethics, and to view Foot as the heir to Anscombe's legacy. This might leave us with the unfortunate supposition that the neo-Aristotelian revival was saddled with an "Archimedean naturalism" that Williams himself rejected as implausible today. I have been suggesting that there is another way to read Anscombe's message, and which does not fetter it to a kind of metaphysical biology that we have no reason to accept. It may also yield a better reading of Aristotle, but that is an argument for another occasion.
University of British Columbia
Correspondence to: Department of Philosophy, Buchanan E370, 1866 Main Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada.
(1) J. L. Mackie, Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong (London: Penguin Books, 1977), 38-42.
(2) Of the five works, only Foot makes much mention of Anscombe. Here I have noted the date of publication for the first edition of MacIntyre's book, and the original version of McDowell's article, although in the paper I shall cite the 1984 second edition and 1998 reprint, respectively. Foot's work is somewhat out of sequence here, since ideas were known to others from articles prior to the publication of the book.
(3) The narrative aspect is least prominent in Foot, who takes herself to be following Anscombe's lead; the consideration given to Aristotle is most cursory in Korsgaard.
(4) Bernard Williams, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (London: Fontana Paperbacks, 1985), 53.
(5) John McDowell, "The Role of Eudaimonia in Aristotle's Ethics," in Essays on Aristotle's Ethics, ed. Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980), 359-76, at 371.
(6) See See Sylvia Berryman, Aristotle on the Sources of the Ethical Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
(7) She recognizes that this view may be vaguely formulated, and is not even committed to its truth: Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity, with G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1996), 18. For a rather different picture, see "Aristotle's Function Argument," in The Constitution of Agency: Essays on Practical Reason and Moral Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 129-50.
(8) Korsgaard, Sources, 3.
(9) Ibid., 2.
(10) Ibid., 1-10.
(11) Ibid., 7 and following. Some critics have questioned whether answers to the latter question are legitimately classified as metaethics: Nadeem J. Z. Hussain and Nishi Shah, "Misunderstanding Metaethics: Korsgaard's Rejection of Realism," in Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol. 1, ed. Russ Shafer-Landau (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), 265-94; and Nadeem J. Z. Hussain and Nishi Shah, "Meta-ethics and Its Discontents: A Case Study of Korsgaard," in Constructivism in Ethics, ed. Carla Bagnoli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 82-107. I thank David Plunkett for alerting me to this debate. For present purposes, we need only the claim that Aristotle could not have reflected on second-order questions about the source and justification of his views.
(12) Korsgaard, Sources, 3: "the ancients thought of human virtue as a kind of excelling"; "[i]n Greek thought, becoming excellent is as natural as growing up"; see ibid., 66. On the tendency to take Aristotle as typical or representative of ancient Greek ethical thought, see Julia Annas, "Aristotle and Kant on Morality and Practical Reasoning," in Aristotle, Kant, and the Stoics: Rethinking Happiness and Duty, ed. Stephen Engstrom and Jennifer Whiting (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 237-58, at 238.
(13) Korsgaard, Sources, 4.
(14) See Williams's essay in ibid., 217, for a critique of the Hegelian aspects of this narrative. In other works, such as Self-Constitution: Agency, Identity, and Integrity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), Korsgaard gives a more sympathetic and systematic presentation of Aristotle's thought.
(15) Korsgaard, Sources, 18.
(16) Wolfgang Detel, "Hybrid Theories of Normativity," in Virtue, Norms, and Objectivity: Issues in Ancient and Modern Ethics, ed. Christopher Gill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), 113-44.
(17) This narrative may owe much to Ralph Cudworth, The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678; London: Thomas Tegg, 1845).
(18) Korsgaard, Sources, 18.
(19) Ibid, 7, 21.
(20) Korsgaard later considers the possibility that Aristotle might have embraced a version of what she calls "reflective endorsement"; ibid., 51 n. 4. She also notes that he recognizes a distinction that substantive realists do not allow, between practical and technological reasoning; ibid., 44 n. 4. These footnotes cast doubt on her initial positioning of Aristotle in the camp of naive naturalism.
(21) G. E. M. Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy 33 (1958): 1-19.
(22) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 3-4.
(23) Paul Grice, The Conception of Value (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 45.
(24) On a puzzle as to why she conflates all contemporary ethicists, see Roger Crisp, "Does Modern Moral Philosophy Rest on a Mistake?" in Modern Moral Philosophy, ed. Anthony O'Hear (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 75-93.
(25) See Philippa Foot, Natural Goodness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 6.
(26) See John McDowell, "Two Sorts of Naturalism," in Mind, Value, and Reality (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1998), 167-97, at 181.
(27) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 4-5.
(28) Ibid, L For a critique of the boundary Anscombe draws between a modern notion of "moral" and ancient ethics, see Julia Annas, The Morality of Happiness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 452-55.
(29) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 10-13; she explores this theme more thoroughly elsewhere.
(30) Ibid, 16; see also 4-6, 18.
(31) Ibid, 17. Anscombe's criticisms of modern moral philosophy in other articles go beyond the issue whether values are at heart merely subjective preferences. She also sees something deeply problematic about the idea of evaluating choices based on appeal to outcomes, rather than recognizing that some actions are unacceptable. Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 10-14. See Sabina Lovibond, "Aristotelian ethics and the 'enlargement of thought,'" in Aristotle and Moral Realism, ed. Robert Heinaman (London: UCL Press Limited, 1995), 99-120, for an illuminating discussion.
(32) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 5-6, esp. 6 n.
(33) Alasdair MacIntyre, "The Claims of After Virtue," in The MacIntyre Reader, ed. Kelvin Knight (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998), esp. 118-20; Charles Taylor, "Justice After Virtue," in After MacIntyre: Critical Perspectives on the Work of Alasdair MacIntyre, ed. John Horton and Susan Mendus (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1994), 16-43, at 18; John Haldane, "MacIntyre's Thomist Revival: What Next?" in After MacIntyre, 91-104.
(34) See Taylor, "Justice After Virtue," 18.
(35) For amendments to MacIntyre's reading of the Stoics, see A. A. Long, "Greek Ethics After MacIntyre and the Stoic Community of Reason," Ancient Philosophy 3 (1983): 184-99.
(36) Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2d ed. (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984), 165-70.
(37) MacIntyre, After Virtue, 53; Taylor, "Justice After Virtue," 16.
(38) Long, "Greek Ethics," 184.
(39) Taylor, "Justice After Virtue," 17-21; MacIntyre, After Virtue, 51-59.
(40) Taylor, "Justice After Virtue" 21; see MacIntyre, "The Claims," 85-86.
(41) Lovibond, "Aristotelian ethics," 104.
(42) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 14-15.
(43) Christopher Mole, "Nineteen Fifty Eight: Information Technology and the Reconceptualization of Creativity," The Cambridge Quarterly 40 (2001): 301-27.
(44) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 5.
(45) Ibid., 18. See Haldane, "MacIntyre's Revival," 94: Anscombe's point about a better philosophy of psychology may be a reference to Aristotle's naturalism.
(46) Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy," 14-15.
(47) Rosalind Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).
(48) The term is perhaps used in preference to describing Aristotle's science as "objective." No ethical view is being ascribed to Archimedes.
(49) Williams, Ethics and the Limits, 28-29, 40-53.
(50) Ibid, 28-29 and following.
(51) Ibid, 44.
(52) Ibid, 46.
(53) Ibid, 40 and following.
(54) Ibid, 121.
(55) Ibid, 44.
(56) Foot, Natural Goodness, 15, 17, 27-37, 46.
(57) MacIntyre, After Virtue, 58-59.
(58) Michael Thompson, "The Representation of Life," in Virtues and Reasons, ed. Rosalind Hursthouse, Gavin Lawrence, and Warren Quinn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), 247-96; Foot, Natural Goodness, 28.
(59) Foot, Natural Goodness, 30-33.
(60) Ibid., 2-3.
(61) Ibid., 16, 39.
(62) Ibid., 45-6, 52.
(63) Ibid., 44-51.
(64) Ibid., 48-51.
(65) Scott Woodcock, "Philippa Foot's Virtue Ethics Has an Achilles' Heel," Dialogue 45 (2006): 445-68. He suggests that, while Foot only explicitly refers to voluntary shortcomings as "defects," she cannot consistently withhold this evaluation from organic disabilities.
(66) Foot, Natural Goodness, 109; Hursthouse, Virtue Ethics, 221 and following, 245-7.
(67) William J. FitzPatrick, Teleology and the Norms of Nature (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000), 19-21, esp. n. 23.
(68) Hursthouse, Virtue Ethics, 257, acknowledges that the biology she depends on is Aristotelian rather than Darwinian. See Christopher W. Gowans, "Virtue and Nature," Social Philosophy and Policy 25 (2008): 28-55, at 32.
(69) Foot, Natural Goodness, 37.
(70) Ibid., 26, 38.
(71) FitzPatrick, Teleology, David Copp and David Sobel, "Morality and Virtue: An Assessment of Some Recent Work in Virtue Ethics," Ethics 114 (2004): 514-54; Philipp Brullmann, "Good (as) Human Beings," in Aristotelian Ethics in Contemporary Perspective, ed. Julia Peters (New York: Routledge, 2013) 97-113.
(72) Copp and Sobel, "Morality and Virtue," 534; Joseph Milium, "Natural Goodness and Natural Evil," Ratio 19 (2006): 199-213; Woodcock, "Achilles' Heel"; Sanford S. Levy, "Philippa Foot's Theory of Natural Goodness," Forum Philosophicum 14 (2009): 1-15.
(73) Milium, "Natural Goodness"; Fitzpatrick, Teleology, 227-28, doubts that they would be precise enough to offer ethical guidance even with such a grounding.
(74) FitzPatrick, Teleology, 198-209.
(75) Ibid, 185.
(76) Copp and Sobel, "Morality and Virtue," 535; FitzPatrick, Teleology, Gowans, "Virtue and Nature."
(77) Copp and Sobel, "Morality and Virtue," 536; Levy, "Philippa Foot's Theory"; John Hacker-Wright, "What is Natural About Foot's Ethical Naturalism?" Ratio 22 (2009): 308-21, at 312. Copp and Sobel note that other sciences--descriptive biology or veterinary medicine--use different criteria of evaluation.
(78) Copp and Sobel, "Morality and Virtue," 537.
(79) Hacker-Wright, "Foot's Ethical Naturalism," 311.
(80) Thompson, "Representation"; Hacker-Wright, "Foot's Ethical Naturalism," 313; John Hacker-Wright, "Ethical Naturalism and the Constitution of Agency," Journal of Value Inquiry 46 (2012): 13-23, at 17.
(81) Thompson, "Representation."
(82) See Milium, "Natural Goodness"; Levy, "Philippa Foot's Theory," 4-6.
(83) FitzPatrick, Teleology, 206-07.
(84) Hacker-Wright, "Foot's Ethical Naturalism," 320.
(85) Hacker-Wright, "Constitution of Agency," 14.
(86) Hacker-Wright, "Foot's Ethical Naturalism," 309-10.
(87) Hursthouse, Virtue Ethics, 166.
(88) Levy, "Philippa Foot's Theory"; Brullmann, "Good (as) Human Beings."
(89) See Hacker-Wright, "Human Nature," 421.
(90) John McDowell, "Two Sorts of Naturalism," in Mind, Value, and Reality (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998), 167-97; see David Forman, "Autonomy as Second Nature: On McDowell's Aristotelian Naturalism," Inquiry 51 (2008): 563-80.
(91) McDowell, "Two Sorts," 186.
(92) For an alternative argument that Aristotle is not seeking an Archimedean Point, see Stephen G. Salkever, Finding the Mean (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990), 4 and following; Martha C. Nussbaum, "Aristotle on Human Nature and the Foundations of Ethics," in World, Mind, and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams, ed. J. E. J. Altham and Ross Harrison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 86-131.
(93) Williams, Ethics and the Limits, 200.
(94) Taylor, "Justice After Virtue," 20. For a critique of some presuppositions in MacIntyre's style of history, see Salkever, Finding the Mean, esp. 31-36.
(95) It is less clear whether MacIntyre reads Aristotle as appealing to human nature as an external point. Christopher Gill, "The Human Being as an Ethical Norm," in The Person and the Human Mind: Issues in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, ed. Christopher Gill (Oxford: Clarendon Press 1990), 137-61, at 139, seems to think so.
(96) John McDowell, "Two Sorts," 185.
(97) Ibid, 185,195; Forman, "Autonomy."
(98) McDowell, "Two Sorts," 171; Christopher Toner, "Sorts of Naturalism: Requirements for a Successful Theory," Metaphilosophy 39 (2008): 220-50, at 226.
(99) John McDowell, "Some Issues in Aristotle's Moral Psychology," in Mind, Value, and Reality, 37-38.
(100) The idea that the modern sciences offer such a picture, rather than a historically situated form of knowledge, is addressed in John McDowell, "Virtue and Reason," in Mind, Value, and Reality, 126-29.
(101) McDowell, "Two Sorts," 189, writes of Aristotle's "immunity to the metaphysical sources of our modern diffidence about such things."
(102) Korsgaard, Self Constitution. LeBar's articulation of an "Aristotelian Constructivism" faces the same conundrum. Mark LeBar, "Aristotelian Constructivism," Social Philosophy and Policy (2008): 182-213; Mark LeBar, The Value of Living Well (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
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|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2018|
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