Moral competition in Aristotle's virtue friendship
LE3 .A278 2009
Bachelor of Arts
In Chapter 1, I examine Aristotle’s concept of virtue friendship and what it entails, who partakes in such friendship, and what these individuals sacrifice and gain in the process. In Chapter 2, I look at Kraut’s proposal that there is moral competition present in virtue friendship. He claims that, while the usual understanding of competition means that there is only one winner and all the rest of the competitors are losers, there is also a different kind of possible competition which allows everyone to be a winner – although one individual will undoubtedly end up better off than the rest. So in Kraut’s view moral competition does not necessarily lead to egoism. Instead, he allows for mixed motivations behind virtuous acts so that when individuals perform a virtuous act with a friend in mind they are not required to forget themselves entirely. In Chapter 3, I look at Annas’ response. She claims that there cannot be moral competition in virtue friendship since such competition would undermine the virtue itself and make it impossible for there to be virtuous individuals. Instead, she suggests that, since Aristotle uses the term “self-love” in an unconventional way, the passages referring to competition in virtue friendship should be understood in an unconventional way. Accordingly, she arrives at the conclusion that the interaction between virtuous individuals is a form of cooperation rather than moral competition. Therefore, she does not recognize the possibility of moral competition in Aristotle’s virtue friendship. In the final chapter, I assess the respective merits of the two positions. I conclude that the moral competition in virtue friendship is constituted in such a way that it does not aim at some further goal, but is instead concerned with performing the virtuous acts to the individual’s highest ability. In this way I maintain that virtuous individuals can be aware of the fact that they receive the fine for performing virtuous actions, while not making that fact the motivation for those actions.
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