Most work in neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics begins by supposing that the virtues are the traits of character that make us good people. Secondary questions, then, include whether, why, and in what ways the virtues are good for the people who have them.
This essay is an argument that the neo-Aristotelian approach is upside down. If, instead, we begin by asking what collection of character traits are good for us---that is, what collection of traits are most likely to promote our own well-being---we find a collection of traits a lot like the traditional slate of virtues.
This suggests an egoistic theory of the virtues: the virtues just are those traits of character that reliably promote the well-being of their possessor. In addition to making the positive case for character egoism, I defend it from some anticipated objections. Most importantly, I argue that character egoism doesn't inherit the problems of ethical egoism. I conclude by offering self-regarding accounts of two virtues traditionally thought to be irreducibly other-regarding: honesty and justice.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2011. Major: Philosophy. Advisors: Valerie Tiberius and Michelle Mason. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 167 pages.
Stoner, Ian M.
The reward of virtue: an essay on the relationship between character and well-being..
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