Aristotle'S Virtues of Greatness

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on the Aristotelian virtues of 'magnificence' and 'magnanimity,'rejecting the popular view that here Aristotle reveals a conception of the virtues asseemly qualities of members of a grand, influential elite. Against this, it is argued first thatsome virtues are restricted to specific groups because only members of those groupswill have the relevant occasion to develop and exercise those virtues; and there isnothing elitist about the thought that unusual social prominence can be such an occasion.Second, it is argued that it is exactly this thought that underlies Aristotle's account ofmagnificence and magnanimity, which require distinctive forms of practical reasoning thatare made salient only by demands peculiar to positions of social prominence. Lastly, theidea that some virtues are distinctive just in virtue of belonging to an elite classindividuates virtues without reference to differences in practical reasoning betweenthem. Such an idea, it is argued, is inimical to the very structure of an Aristotelian virtuetheory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVirtue and Happiness
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honour of Julia Annas
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743368
ISBN (Print)9780199646043
StatePublished - Jan 24 2013


  • Aristotle
  • Elitism
  • Magnanimity
  • Magnificence
  • Virtue
  • Virtue theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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