“Virtue and Eudaimonism”
Annas begins by taking stock of contemporary virtue ethics. She notices that there has been a resurgence in thinking about morality from the perspective of virtue (areté), however, at the same time, it seems as though we have not likewise taken guidance from the ancients in terms of thinking about happiness (Eudaimonia). She thinks that to focus on the one without the other is to miss the point. After all, it is tough to make sense of the idea of virtue – understood as proper functioning – without understanding the purpose at which virtue aims: the happy or eudaimon life
So, the structure of her paper will be as follows:
She will first explore the idea of ‘virtue’ from the perspectives of both modern and ancient theories.
Next, she will explore the concept of ‘happiness’ from each of the perspectives.
Finally, she will try to synthesize, and in her words, ‘transform’ each concept into a more robust notion of each.
Virtue – Modern and Ancient:
Annas notices that our concept of virtue is utterly a mess; even contrary sometimes. She notes that people just have no clear sense of what a virtue might be and how we ought to incorporate it into our lives. She writes (p. 247): It is as though we realize that virtue is a powerful normative notion, and would like to make more use of it, but have somehow lost our grip on what it is. She believes that this is the result of the following reason: Virtues have increasingly just be seen as merely dispositions to do the right thing. -This really just gives virtues a formal character in any ethical theory, however, it does not allow them to have content specific to what they are. Examples: Utilitarian virtues, deontic virtues, etc. But there is more to virtue than merely being disposed to do the right thing. This seems to make virtues appear rather uninteresting and trivial.
However, Annas thinks that if we were to look to the