Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 273–291 | Cite as

Virtue and Disagreement



One of the most prominent strands in contemporary work on the virtues consists in the attempt to develop a distinctive—and compelling—account of practical reason on the basis of Aristotle’s ethics. In response to this project, several eminent critics have argued that the Aristotelian account encourages a dismissive attitude toward moral disagreement. Given the importance of developing a mature response to disagreement, the criticism is devastating if true. I examine this line of criticism closely, first elucidating the features of the Aristotelian account that motivate it, and then identifying two further features of the account that the criticism overlooks. These further features show the criticism to be entirely unwarranted. Once these features are acknowledged, a more promising line of criticism suggests itself—namely, that the Aristotelian account does too little to help us to resolve disputes—but that line of objection will have to be carried out on quite different grounds.


Virtue Disagreement McDowell Practical reason Uncodifiability Aristotelian ethics 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MontanaMissoulaUSA

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