D. V.Balashov

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  • № 4, 2023

    • Theory of Distributive Justice Based on Virtue Ethics: Is It Possible?

      The problem of social justice plays one of the central roles in modern political philosophy, and since 1970s it has been subject to vehement debate. Although social justice is a multifaceted phenomenon, distributive (economic) justice, associated with the fair distribution of goods in society, remains its most important aspect.

      Almost all modern theories of distributive justice follow one of the two classical ethical traditions: deontological and utilitarian. However, since the second half of the 20th century, a third ethical tradition has started to emerge — virtue ethics, whose proponents criticized both deontology and utilitarianism. The emphasis on virtue that lies at the heart of the new tradition assumes a shift in focus from a universal rule to individual decisions of a separate person. This change in perspective makes it much more difficult to use virtue ethics to construct theories of social justice. Nevertheless, such attempts are being made. Among them is the so-called capabilities approach of the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, which has become quite widely known in the scientific community.

      Nussbaum has reconsidered Aristotle’s philosophy, updating its key provisions for the modern world. By shifting the main focus from the category of virtue to the category of opportunity, she attempted to justify the idea of an “Aristotelian welfare state” with a high level of redistribution of goods in society.

      The article is devoted to the analysis of Nussbaum’s concept. Having carefully considered its key tenets, D.Balashov shows that this experience of building a political and philosophical theory of justice on the basis of virtue ethics was not crowned with success. Although declared as Aristotelian in spirit, the capabilities approach in fact has a weak relation to Aristotle’s teachings, which, in particular, points to the problems that modern authors face when they are trying to draw on the heritage of the distant past.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-31-50

      Pages: 31-50