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A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

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Volume 52, Issue 1


Is the Virtue of Integrity Redundant in Aristotelian Virtue Ethics?

Kristján Kristjánsson
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  • Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, School of Education, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
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Published Online: 2019-01-09 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2017-0071


Integrity – the darling of many contemporary virtue ethicists – does not seem to feature in Aristotle’s system. This article explores whether integrity is redundant in Aristotelian virtue ethics, even of the reconstructed neo-Aristotelian kind, in the sense that any role it could reasonably be expected to play is already adequately covered by other virtues. I explain why that may be the case. Nevertheless, I propose to answer this question eventually in the negative by carving out a role for integrity within Aristotelian virtue ethics, which arguably no other construct covers, in integrating the moral but non-virtuous commitments of the continent. Prior to that, however, some ground-clearing is needed, calling for a number of discrete arguments. We need to know, for instance, how to understand ‘integrity’, and whether vice is potentially amenable to integration in the same way as virtue allegedly is. We also need to inquire whether integrity is better understood as a moral or an intellectual virtue. While I am mostly interested in the role of integrity as a higher-order (‘meta’ and/or ‘master’) virtue, I pay some attention also to accounts that consider it simply as one standard virtue among many.

Keywords: Aristotle; integrity; meta-virtue; continence; phronēsis


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About the article

Published Online: 2019-01-09

Published in Print: 2019-01-26

Citation Information: Apeiron, Volume 52, Issue 1, Pages 93–115, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2017-0071.

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