Lebensform – zweite Natur – Person

Überlegungen zum aristotelischen Naturalismus in der Ethik

  • 1 Institut für Wissenschaft und Ethik, Universität Bonn, Bonner Talweg 57, 53113 Bonn
  • 2 Institut für Neurowissenschaften und Medizin 8: Ethik in den Neurowissenschaften, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 52425 Jülich


For a couple of years, “Aristotelian Naturalism” has been the subject of intensive debates. Among the most prominent proponents of this type of ethical theory are Philippa Foot and John McDowell. At first sight, these approaches are quite attractive for they seem to combine a number of advantages. The central thesis of the present paper is, however, that they do not succeed in developing a convincing ethical theory. To substantiate this claim, Foot’s approach will be presented in a first step. In a second step, McDowell’s critique on Foot will be outlined. Foot’s attempt to provide an external foundation for morality takes centre stage here. In a third step, McDowell’s own version of Aristotelian Naturalism, which has an explicitly anti-foundational shape, will be delineated. Although McDowell’s critique on Foot proves to be valid, it leads him to the wrong conclusions. He ignores that a reason-internal foundation of morality is available which resists his legitimate critique while being superior to his own anti-foundational theory. At the core of such an approach lies a non-reductive concept of person, which stands in clear contrast to Foot’s concept of “life form” as well as to McDowell’s concept of “second nature”.

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As an open forum for discussion, Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie promotes dialog between different philosophical cultures, transcending any one school of thought. The journal primarily publishes studies that are actively engaged in modern international philosophical discourse and explore new conceptual approaches. In addition to scholarly papers, essays, interviews, and symposia, the journal presents discussions and book reviews.