Virtue Ethics

Julia Annas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


In the tradition of Western philosophy since the fifth century bc, the default form of ethical theory has been some version of what is nowadays called virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is best approached by looking at the central features of the classical version of the tradition. Modern virtue ethical theories have not yet achieved such a critical mass of argument and theory, and most are as yet partial or fragmentary. This article builds up, cumulatively, a picture of the entire structure of classical virtue ethics, and then sees how different versions of it result from ignoring or rejecting parts of that structure. The result, while unavoidably schematic, helps to clarify the various debates that are growing up in virtue ethics, and helps to orient those who are less familiar with the terrain and are sometimes puzzled by the recent proliferation of theories with the name virtue ethics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199892075
ISBN (Print)0195147790, 9780195325911
StatePublished - Sep 2 2009


  • Classical virtue ethics
  • Debates
  • Ethical theory
  • Virtue ethics
  • Western philosophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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