10. “A Problem With Aristotle’s Ethical Essentialism”


Abstract: Aristotelian ethics is still very promising, mainly because of its meta-ethical naturalism. As in medicine, what’s good versus bad is based on knowledge of the nature of something. With the addition of a strong doctrine of voluntary action, the morally good life is one within which one pursues one’s human flourishing (by means of practicing the virtues). An obstacle is Aristotle’s essentialism whereby he stresses what is distinctive about human beings, not what is a matter of their nature, as the standard of right versus wrong conduct. If this is amended in Aristotle what emerges is what some have called a genuine naturalist, biocentric ethical eudaimonism. Here I sketch the case for this amended Aristotelian ethical view.