Virtue Ethics: A Contemporary Introduction, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Virtue Ethics

A Contemporary Introduction, 1st Edition

By Liezl van Zyl


234 pages

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Paperback: 9780415836166
pub: 2018-07-05
Hardback: 9780415836173
pub: 2018-06-26
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pub: 2018-07-03
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This volume provides a clear and accessible overview of central concepts, positions, and arguments in virtue ethics today. While it focuses primarily on Aristotelian virtue ethics, it also includes discussion of alternative forms of virtue ethics (sentimentalism and pluralism) and competing normative theories (consequentialism and deontology).

The first six chapters are organized around central questions in normative ethics that are of particular concern to virtue ethicists and their critics:

  • What is virtue ethics?
  • What makes a trait a virtue?
  • Is there a link between virtue and happiness?
  • What is involved in being well-motivated?
  • What is practical wisdom?
  • What makes an action right?

The last four chapters focus on important challenges or objections to virtue ethics:

  • Can virtue ethics be applied to particular moral problems?
  • Does virtue ethics ultimately rely on moral principles?
  • Can it withstand the situationist critique?
  • What are the prospects for an environmental virtue ethics?



"Highly recommended as both a textbook and a research monograph, Van Zyl's Virtue Ethics is at once a thorough, up-to-date, and even-handed survey of the current state of the art and an argumentative contribution to the field. Her book shows not just what virtue ethics as a broad normative theory is, but also what it could become via application to various thorny questions and contexts. Enlightening and edifying: I can't think of a better introduction!"

Mark Alfano, Associate Professor at Delft University of Technology and Professor at Australian Catholic University

"In this admirably clear and comprehensive introduction, Van Zyl masterfully articulates and evaluates the rationales underlying the most prominent forms of contemporary virtue ethics. While fully accessible to beginners, this book will also be appreciated by those who have long been engaged in ethical theory."

Nicholas Ryan Smith, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, USA

Table of Contents

Preface; Acknowledgements; Plan of the Book; 1. Virtue Ethics 2. Virtue 3. Virtue and Happiness 4. Virtuous Motives 5. Practical Wisdom 6. Virtue and Right Action 7. Applying Virtue Ethics 8. Virtue-ethical Particularism 9. The Situationist Critique 10. Virtue and Environmental Ethics; Bibliography; Index

About the Author

Liezl van Zyl is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. She works primarily in ethics, in particular virtue ethics and applied ethics.

About the Series

Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy

An innovative, well structured series, the Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy are designed for students who already have completed an introductory-level course in philosophy.  Each book introduces a core general subject in contemporary philosophy and offers students an accessible but substantial transition from introductory to higher-level college work in that subject.  The series is accessible to non-specialists and each book clearly motivates and expounds the problems and positions introduced.  An orientating chapter briefly introduces its topic and reminds readers of any crucial material they need to have retained from a typical introductory course.  Considerable attention is given to explaining central philosophical problems of a subject and the main competing solutions and arguments for those solutions.  The primary aim is to educate students in the main problems, positions and arguments of contemporary philosophy rather than to convince students of a single position.

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