Dr. Susan K. Allard-Nelson holds a BA in Philosophy and Classics from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, and a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Warwick, Coventry, England. She specializes in Ancient Philosophy, Aristotle, and Moral Philosophy and, currently, she teaches Philosophy and Writing at Pacific Lutheran University. Her work has appeared in Philosophy and Rhetoric, and she is the co-author of a book (with Dr. Eric D. Nelson) on ancient Greece.
2004 0-7734-6306-2 The project of this work is to combine an interpretative study of Aristotle’s thinking about the foundational elements of ethical theory with the formulation of a theory of ethical normativity that is based on those same elements, but that is independently formulated and analyzed. In particular, the book argues that virtue ethics, of an Aristotelian type, can provide a coherent and satisfying theory of normativity, although this has sometimes been denied in modern scholarship. Normativity is sometimes thought to require a theory of a deductive type, in which ethical norms are derived from the principle of universalization (Kant’s view) or from a universal principle, such as, in Utilitarianism, the maximization of human happiness. The claim here is that normativity can also, and more plausibly, be established inductively through an examination of human nature—as understood through a variety of means, including the ethical agent’s own sense of what human nature consists in and scientific psychology—and the interrelated Aristotelian ideas of virtue, happiness, and particular relationships. The suggestion is that, if norms are grounded in this way, we can establish a normative framework that corresponds to the reality of human shared and individual experience and that is, therefore, more cogent than one that depends (deductively) on abstract, universal principles. This Aristotelian, inductive, theory is offered as embodying a cogent account of ethical normativity, which represents a contribution to current philosophical debate on the nature and basis of ethical norms.