Virtue Ethics and Human Nature as a Normative Constraint on Practical Reason

Faculty/Professorship: Philosophy  
Author(s): De Anna, Gabriele
Title of the Journal: Ragion Pratica
ISSN: 1720-2396
Publisher Information: Bologna : Soc. ed. Mulino
Year of publication: 2018
Volume: 50
Issue: 1
Pages: 179-196
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1415/89764
One of the critical points of virtue ethics is whether it can account for normative constraints on human action. Traditional forms of this view (e.g., Aristotle’s) relied on the notion of human nature as a normative constraint, but contemporary versions normally share Anscombe’s contention that action is essentially first-personal and thereby have a hard time explaining how metaphysical knowledge can be a constraint. Although some virtue ethicists have tried to acknowledge a normative role to human nature (Hursthouse and Foot), others have complained that these attempts are vain, and that human nature matters in action theory just as the source of the materials that agents employ in constructing their agencies (Annas). This essay contends that human nature can be a constraint also as a content of the reasoning processes of agents and that this assigns a role of normative constraint to human nature from the point of view of the first person, which avoids the charge of committing the naturalist fallacy.
Keywords: action, human nature, practical reason, virtue ethics
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Type: Article
Year of publication: 5. July 2018