Forgotten virtue ethics

Aristotle’s Protrepticus and Aristo-telic Magna Moralia

Contemporary moral philosophy has been divided into two approaches: the one is deontologist; the other utilitarian. The most representative deontological approach is the one which takes inspi-ration from Kant’s ethics and clusters around its categorical imperative as the expression par excel-lence of a rationally deduced moral duty. On the other side, the utilitarian approach is consequen-tialism in all its versions, as all of them envisage our moral duties as the outcome of rational calculi on the most beneficial effects. It is in this philosophical scenario, then, that, around the second half of the last century, philosophers begun to renew a fundamentally Aristotelian approach to ethics to sketch out a new way of understanding our moral commitments based on his moral treatises. This new approach can be labelled as virtue ethics. Virtue ethics conceives of our moral duties as deeply rooted in our ways of life, which gives to this approach a more historical sense, yet it offers new ways of understanding ethical norms in contemporary society. The proposed workshops will focus on understudied roots of the virtue ethics, namely on two important and problematic texts: Aristotle’s lost dialogue Protrepticus, which survived in fragments within the works of later authors, and the Magna Moralia, an Aristotelian treatise of dubious origin. We will study these texts in order to better understand the development and variants of virtue ethics in antiquity as well as for the sake of a better understanding of the moral norms based on normative understanding of human nature, virtues and the good life. The workshops continue the tradition of regional meetings of scholars associated within the South-East European Association for Ancient Philosophy (SEAAP). The workshops will be an occasion for doctoral students and advanced graduate students to pre-sent their work and confront leading experts in the field of ancient philosophy and ethics.


Contact person: 

Jakub Jirsa, Ph.D.

CENTRAL partners:

Prof. Karel Thein, Ph.D., Charles University, Prague

Prof. István Bodnár, Ph.D., ELTE, Budapest

Prof. Geogre Karamanolis, Ph.D., University of Vienna