Date of Award

Spring 4-15-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. A.J. Cohen

Second Advisor

Dr. Tim O'Keefe

Third Advisor

Dr. Jessica Berry


In this thesis I distinguish between two conceptions of naturalism that have been offered as possible starting points for a virtue based ethics. The first version of naturalism is characterized by Philippa Foot’s project in Natural Goodness. The second version of naturalism can be found, in various forms, among the works of John McDowell, Martha Nussbaum, and Rosalind Hursthouse. I argue that neither naturalistic approach is entirely successful on its own, but that we can fruitfully carve a path between both approaches that points the way to a positive ethical account. I then conclude with a brief sketch of what such a positive account of a virtue ethics may look like.


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Philosophy Commons