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The Virtue Ethics of Hume and Nietzsche

ISBN: 978-1-118-93939-0
248 pages
May 2015
The Virtue Ethics of Hume and Nietzsche (1118939395) cover image


This ground-breaking and lucid contribution to the vibrant field of virtue ethics focuses on the influential work of Hume and Nietzsche, providing fresh perspectives on their philosophies and a compelling account of their impact on the development of virtue ethics.

  • A ground-breaking text that moves the field of virtue ethics beyond ancient moral theorists and examines the highly influential ethical work of Hume and Nietzsche from a virtue ethics perspective
  • Contributes both to virtue ethics and a refreshed understanding of Hume’s and Nietzsche’s ethics
  • Skilfully bridges the gap between continental and analytical philosophy
  • Lucidly written and clearly organized, allowing students to focus on either Hume or Nietzsche
  • Written by one of the most important figures contributing to virtue ethics today
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Introduction xi

Part I: A Virtue Ethical Map 1

Chapter 1 Interpretation as a Map 3

Chapter 2 Hume and Nietzsche as Response Dependence Virtue Ethicists 19

Part II: The Virtue Ethics of Hume 43

Chapter 3 Can Hume Be Both a Sentimentalist and a Virtue Ethicist? 45

Chapter 4 Hume and the Problem of Justice as a Virtue 70

Chapter 5 What Kind of Virtue Ethicist Is Hume? 87

Part III: The Virtue Ethics of Nietzsche 109

Chapter 6 Can Nietzsche Be Both a Virtue Ethicist and an Egoist? 111

Chapter 7 Can Nietzsche Be Both a Virtue Ethicist and an Existentialist? 135

Chapter 8 What Kind of Virtue Ethicist Is Nietzsche? 157

Part IV: New Directions 179

Chapter 9 Humean Virtue Ethics: Virtue Ethics of Love 181

Chapter 10 Nietzschean Virtue Ethics: Virtue Ethics of Becoming 195

Bibliography 212

Index 222

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Author Information

Christine Swanton is a philosopher in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. She is the author of Virtue Ethics: A Pluralist View (2005), Freedom: A Coherence Theory (1992), and has contributed numerous articles to journals and reference works. She is regarded as one of the leading academic figures currently working within the field of virtue ethics.
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“Christine Swanton's careful reading of Hume and Nietzsche as virtue ethicists is both original and compelling. This foundational work significantly advances scholarship in virtue ethics, paving the way for a viable alternative to Aristotelianism.”

Liezl van Zyl, University of Waikato

“In this book, Christine Swanton continues to expand our conception of virtue ethics.  She combines her characteristic precision with textual attentiveness to interpret both Hume and Nietzsche as response dependence theorists.  The result is bold and refreshing as she showcases the enduring legacies of both philosophers and their relevance for recent developments in philosophical ethics.  Readers will find particularly exciting her reconstruction of Hume as centrally concerned with our capacities for empathy, love and compassion to sustain and strengthen our bonds with one another.”

Jacqueline Taylor, University of San Francisco

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