Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
Relationship justice, virtue ethics, philosophical practice
Since the Enlightenment project to reconstruct morality using purely rational grounds failed, modern moral debate has been fragmented. Furthermore, intimate relationships, whether romantic or marital, are plagued with all kinds of injustices that have not been formally addressed in a philosophical investigation. The purpose of this thesis is to argue that the moral theory to restore interpersonal justice in intimate relationships is the notion of ‘practice’, founded by Alasdair MacIntyre under the Aristotelian virtue ethics tradition. What is meant by the notion of practice is any human activity with goods exclusive to its extent, as well as cooperative, objective, and specific standards of excellence to reach those goods. Furthermore, virtues are necessary to engage in practices. Virtues are personal character qualities that, when held, allow us to obtain goods within activities, and when not held, will prevent us from obtaining those same goods. The reason this is so imperative to relationships is because relationships are the most fundamental of all practices, because without relationships with other people, practices would not exist as collective activities. My methodology consists of legalistically mapping out all exclusive goods, standards of excellence, and virtues that are or ought to be universal to all relationships (with a special focus on interpersonal conflict), as well as all subsequent ramifications. This is not to say that all aspects of the ‘practice’ of interpersonal relationships will extend globally to each and every relationship. Individuals have unique needs, and with those unique needs come unique standards. However, as long as the standards are mutually agreed upon by the participants, and the needs of each person are met, there is still a local sense of justice within that relationship. Through four distinct characters, each with their own approach, it was found that a philosophical practice, as the manifested union between humanity’s essence and existence, does provide significant insight into the ultimate good of relationships (love), which virtues are necessary to achieve it, and which vices frustrate one’s obtainment of relationship satisfaction and fulfillment.
Heiser, Quinn, "The Cut to the Heart of the Matter: Justice, Morality, and Virtue Ethics in Intimate Relationships" (2023). Honors Theses. 3730.
Honors Thesis-Open Access