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Posted by on Nov 2, 2013 in Ethics, Philosophy | 5 comments

Is physical strength a virtue?

Judging by the way so many people revere elite athletes, it seems arguable that physical strength is a virtue in the ancient sense of that word, i.e. a human excellence, or an excellence in a human being who possesses it. Or at least it is commonly regarded that way.

That’s controversial enough, but could it even be an excellence with moral or ethical significance? That sounds like a very strange notion to modern ears, but Aristotle would (arguably) have thought so, and the idea can be developed as part of a sophisticated ethical theory that deals with at least the most obvious objections on the ground of absurdity, etc. This would obviously have consequences for current debates about human enhancement technologies.

In the current issue of The Journal of Evolution and Technology, Kyle Oskvig broaches this tricky subject. He does not offer a full defence of Aristotle, but he does show that an evolved, reconstructed version of Aristotelian ethics can make such ideas seem much less crazy than we moderns are inclined to think. Check it out!