Placing virtue and the human good in psychology

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30 Scopus citations


This article contextualizes and critiques the recent increase in interest in virtue ethics and the good life (eudaimonia) in psychology. Theoretically, psychologists' interests in virtue and eudaimonia have followed the philosophical revival of these topics, but this work has been subject to persistent, disguised commitments to the ideologies of individualism and instrumentalism. Moreover, psychologists' tendency to separate the topics of virtue and eudaimonia is described and critiqued as theoretically misguided, particularly because Aristotle, the originator of these concepts, saw them as mutually entailing one another. Historically, psychology turned away from the topic of virtue in tandem with the popular cultural interest in favor of personality rather than character. The article concludes with a brief overview of Aristotle's account of eudaimonia as the overarching human good consisting of participation in characteristically human goods (e.g., knowledge, belonging) through virtuous activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Aristotle
  • Eudaimonia
  • Goods
  • Ideology
  • Virtue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Philosophy


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