Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Tim O'Keefe

Second Advisor

Jessica Berry

Third Advisor

Andrew Altman


According to many contemporary Aristotelian ethicists, virtuous action should be enjoyable for the virtuous person, and the virtuous life is characterised by pleasantly virtuous activity. In this paper, however, I will argue that Aristotle offers us a strikingly different view of the virtuous emotions, one which moreover fits far better with our ethical intuitions. On my interpretation of the Nicomachean Ethics, the virtuous person may have mixed feelings whenever virtue requires them to act against their ordinarily virtuous dispositions. I argue that such cases may occur rather frequently for certain kinds of virtuous persons, for example those who must cause pain to others in order to act virtuously. This more complex account of the virtuous emotions has the potential to offer more plausible responses to problems in, for instance, applied medical ethics. The better interpretation of Aristotle, I suggest, is also the more plausible ethical view.