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Book description

The revival of Aristotelian virtue ethics can be seen as a response to the modern problem of disenchantment, that is, the perceived loss of meaning in modernity. However, in Virtue and Meaning, David McPherson contends that the dominant approach still embraces an overly disenchanted view. In a wide-ranging discussion, McPherson argues for a more fully re-enchanted perspective that gives better recognition to the meanings by which we live and after which we seek, and to the fact that human beings are the meaning-seeking animal. In doing so, he defends distinctive accounts of the relationship between virtue and happiness, other-regarding demands, and the significance of linking neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics with a view of the meaning of life and a spiritual life where contemplation has a central role. This book will be valuable for philosophers and other readers who are interested in virtue ethics and the perennial question of the meaning of life.


'This book is strikingly excellent. It is beautifully argued, fair-minded, and a pleasure to read. It is also the most authentically neo-Aristotelian account of ethics and the moral life that I have read. In making a case for a higher, more noble, more meaningful form of life, it deserves to be widely considered, and I would not be surprised if people someday spoke of it alongside works by G.E.M. Anscombe, Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and a few others.'

Stephen R. Grimm - Fordham University, New York

'Like other animals, human beings live lives that can be flourishing or not so flourishing. But they also quest for meaning in their lives and in their world. McPherson’s fine new book is both an exploration of the joins and the gaps between these two aspects of human nature, and also itself an example of that quest.'

Sophie-Grace Chappell - The Open University

'An original and finely crafted study that takes us way beyond the standard agenda of modern virtue ethics. McPherson persuasively and illuminatingly argues that the human search for fulfilment needs to be understood within a much richer and more resonant framework of objective meaning and value than is allowed for by most contemporary moral philosophers.'

John Cottingham - University of Reading, University of Roehampton, London, and Honorary Fellow of St John’s College, University of Oxford

‘This book could be read by undergraduates and seasoned academics alike. McPherson does a good job of summarizing the relevant aspects of contemporary virtue theory such that students unfamiliar with this literature should still be able to follow the argument, but not at the expense of nuance.’

Sarah Pawlett Jackson Source: Religious Studies Review

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