Virtue ethics: an anti-moralistic defence


  • Maria Silvia Vaccarezza Università degli Studi di Genova



virtue ethics, Aristotle, moralism


The aim of this paper is to single out four main kinds of ethical moralism, which might be associated to virtue ethics, and to offer a virtue-ethical response to each. By doing so, I aim at defending virtue ethics, properly understood, from the intrinsic danger of a moralistic drift. I begin by proposing a definition of moralism and a list of its main forms. I define moralism as the “perception of a moral judgment as coming from outside the agent”, and I single four main forms out, which I label Inflexibility moralism (IM), Pervasivity moralism (PM), Extremeness moralism (EM) and Unentitlement moralism (UM). Then, I list the main features of the virtue-ethical perspective I embrace, and finally, I argue that such normative approach can prevent a moralistic drift, insofar as it effectively avoids the mentioned charges. Thus, I conclude that a virtue-ethical approach, thanks to its capacity of reconciling reasons and motives, and to its proposing a first-personal perspective on morality, has an advantage in presenting moral requirements in a non-moralistic fashion.

Author Biography

Maria Silvia Vaccarezza, Università degli Studi di Genova

Assistant Professor

Dipartimento di Antichità, Filosofia e Storia - Aretai Center on Virtues