The Journal of Value Inquiry

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 287–305 | Cite as

Phronesis as Ethical Expertise: Naturalism of Second Nature and the Unity of Virtue

  • Mario De CaroEmail author
  • Maria Silvia Vaccarezza
  • Ariele Niccoli


Whether human nature can (or should) orient action by providing the objective standard by which one measures morality, and by setting the constraints on what counts as virtuous, is a much-debated issue within virtue ethics, thanks to the seminal works of Philippa Foot, Bernard Williams, John McDowell, Julia Annas, Rosalind Hursthouse, and Michael Thompson. This discussion, however, is all but settled, since the advocates of a strict naturalism keep proposing reductive or eliminative views of moral phenomena, while the defenders of reason as the ultimate source of normativity deny that facts about human nature can pose any relevant constraint on it.

This paper has a twofold aim. On the one hand, we will discuss the much debated question of the source of normativity (which traditionally has nature and practical reason as the two main contenders to this role) and propose a new answer to it. Second, in answering this question, we will present a new account of practical wisdom,...

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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mario De Caro
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Maria Silvia Vaccarezza
    • 3
  • Ariele Niccoli
    • 4
  1. 1.Università Roma TreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Tufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  3. 3.University of GenoaGenoaItaly
  4. 4.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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