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8 Husserl’s Phenomenological Axiology and Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

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Chapter Summary

The resurgence of interest in virtue ethics in contemporary philosophy is often traced to the late 1950s and to the work of Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot. The revival of a virtue approach to ethics, first appears on scene as an intervention in the meta-ethical debate between cognitivists and non-cognitivists rather than as a normative position. Textbooks of the time, even Foot's own Theories of Ethics (1967), standardly provide accounts of only two normative perspectives; deontologism and utilitarianism. It was not until works such as Peter Geach's The Virtues (1977), Foot's Virtues and Vices ([1978a] 2002), and, most decisively, Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue (1981) that virtue ethics identified itself as a third alternative in debate in normative ethics between deontological theories and utilitarian or consequentialist theories. The author limits discussion to what can be broadly construed as an Aristotelian approach to the meta-ethical and normative dimensions of virtue ethics.

Keywords: Aristotelian approach; deontologism; Elizabeth Anscombe; meta-ethical debate; Philippa Foot; utilitarianism; virtue ethics



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