Charlotte Alderwick: An Alternative Virtue Ethics

This Wednesday, we have the pleasure of welcoming Dr Charlotte Alderwick from the University of West England (Bristol) who will be talking about virtue ethics.

Room 2G13 Dalhousie Building

Wednesday 5 of December, 4-6pm


In this paper I want to present an alternative account of virtue ethics to dominant views, using a metaphysical picture loosely based on Schelling’s.  I want to argue that this way of thinking about virtues, or conditions for flourishing, is able to provide an account of human flourishing that avoids some of the worries that arise for more traditional accounts; and further that it has desirable implications for our obligations towards other agents, non-human animals, and the environment.

One claim I want to defend is that the metaphysical system that we are (either implicitly or explicitly) committed to shapes our ethical system.  Therefore in the first part of the paper I briefly present two readings of Schelling’s metaphysics and draw out the different ethical implications of these, before providing an argument that the correct way to read this metaphysics sees Schelling come out as committed to something like a virtue ethics, or ethics of flourishing.

Having laid this groundwork I then consider which virtues follow from the metaphysical picture and conception of agency I have argued for, arguing that these are more desirable than the virtues advocated by more traditional views.  I finish by looking at some objections to virtue ethics, and considering the ways in which the view I have sketched is able to meet these.



Charlotte Alderwick is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West of England (UWE).  She completed her PhD entitled Freedom and Powers in Schelling’s Metaphysics at the University of Sheffield in 2015, and has been at UWE ever since.  Charlotte’s research is at the intersection of the history of philosophy (mainly European philosophy) and contemporary debates, bringing historical figures into conversation with contemporary work in metaphysics, in particular the metaphysics of powers and the metaphysics of free will.  Her first monograph, on Schelling and contemporary power-based ontologies, is due to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2020.

More about Dr Charlotte Alderwick here.