Virtuous emotions

Research output: Book/ReportBook

20 Citations (Scopus)


Aristotelian virtue ethics has gained momentum within latter-day moral theorizing. Many people are drawn towards virtue ethics because of the central place it gives to emotions in the good life; after all, Aristotle says that emotions can have an intermediate and best condition proper to virtue. Yet nowhere does Aristotle provide a definitive list of virtuous emotions. In the Rhetoric, Aristotle does analyse a number of emotions. However, many emotions that one would have expected to see there fail to get a mention, and others are written off rather hastily as morally defective. Whereas most of what goes by the name of ‘Aristotelian’ virtue ethics nowadays is heavily reconstructed and updated Aristotelianism, such exercises in retrieval have not been systematically attempted with respect to his emotion theory. The aim of this book is to offer a revised ‘Aristotelian’ analysis and moral justification of a number of emotions that Aristotle either did not mention (such as awe, grief, and jealousy), relegated, at best, to the level of the semi-virtuous (such as shame), made disparaging remarks about (such as gratitude) or rejected explicitly (such as pity, understood as pain at another person’s deserved bad fortune). It is argued that there are good ‘Aristotelian’ reasons for understanding those emotions either as virtuous or as indirectly conducive to virtue. The book begins with an overview of Aristotle’s ideas on the nature of emotions and of emotional value, and it ends with an account of Aristotelian emotion education.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages240
ISBN (Print)9780198809678
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2018


  • Aristotle
  • virtue
  • emotion
  • moral justification
  • emotion education


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