McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
ethics, Neo-Aristotelian, Nicomachean, Shakespeare, tragedies
"Nicomachean and Neo-Aristotelian Ethics in Shakespeare's Tragedies" examines two of Shakespeare's most compelling tragedies--Othello and King Lear--through the lens of contemporary virtue ethics theory, thereby offering new conceptions of how morality operates in these plays. Although neo-Aristotelian moral philosophers locate the roots of their theories in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, their arguments reach far beyond Aristotle's original theoretical conception, offering innovative ways for us to understand virtue in our analysis of morality. The dissertation Introduction provides an overview of contemporary moral philosophy--i.e., the state of normative ethics today, including brief explanations of Deontology, Teleology, and Virtue theory. Discussion in Chapter One focuses on Aristotle's original conception of Virtue Ethics as espoused in his Nicomachean Ethics, and Chapter Two highlights the theories advanced by prominent contemporary neo-Aristotelian philosophers: Rosalind Hursthouse's argument in defense of the action-guiding principles of virtue ethics, Christine Swanton's Nietzschean formulation of virtue, Michael Slote's Agent-Based approach to understanding human morality, and the collaborative efforts of Virginia Held, Annette Baier, Michael Slote, and Nel Noddings in the development of the Ethics of Care. Chapter Three examines the principal characters in Othello through lenses offered by Swanton and Slote, thereby offering viable new analyses of the characters' behaviors. And through a close reading of King Lear, Chapter Four illustrates the scholarly import of the Ethics of Care in literary analysis. An innovation in virtue ethics that locates the very essence of morality in human caring, the Ethics of Care offers an avenue for us to gain greater insight and a deeper appreciation of literature from a new and significant philosophical perspective.
Bayer, J. (2010). Nicomachean and Neo-Aristotelian Ethics and Shakespeare's Tragedies (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/266