Foucault as virtue ethicist

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In his last two books and in the essays and interviews associated with them, Foucault develops a new mode of ethical thought he describes as an aesthetics of existence. I argue that this new ethics bears a striking resemblance to the virtue ethics that has become prominent in Anglo-American moral philosophy over the past three decades, in its classical sources, in its opposition to rule-based systems and its positive emphasis upon what Foucault called the care for the self. I suggest that seeing Foucault and virtue ethicists as engaged in a convergent project sheds light on a number of obscurities in Foucault s thought, and provides us with a historical narrative in which to situate his claims about the development of Western moral thought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-31
Number of pages12
JournalFoucault Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes


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