Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Art And Morality

By Prof. R. Hepburn
Argument in this area tends to cluster around either of two poles: one seeing the relation between art and morality as close and harmonious, the other more keenly aware of conflicts and tensions between them.

1. Art is taken as vital to moral health. It brings into play, expresses, ‘purges’ emotions and energies that, in real-life situations, could be harmful and destructive. It allows us, without risk, to explore in depth the essential nature and outworking of endless types of human character and social interaction—in plays and novels.

If art appreciation is essentially contemplative, attentive to the individuality of its objects, and respecting and loving them for what they are in themselves, these aesthetic attitudes are close neighbors to the morally desirable attitudes of respect for persons and moral attentiveness to their individual natures and needs. Again, art can enlarge the scope of individual freedom, by expanding awareness of our options for action and for forms of human relationship, beyond those options that are immediately apparent in everyday society. More broadly, the arts enhance human vitality through teaching a keener, more vivid perception of the colours, forms, and sounds of a world of which we are normally only dimly aware, and a more intense and clarified awareness of values.

2. Nevertheless, art has also been seen as morally dubious or harmful. At the level of theory, the Kantian and post-Kantian accounts of a disinterested, calmly contemplative aesthetic attitude have recently been facing critical challenge. It is claimed, furthermore, that art stimulates emotions better not aroused; encourages the imagination to realize in detail, and to enjoy, morally deplorable activity, thereby making that more likely to be acted out in life.

If freedom can be enhanced by art, it can also be diminished—by artworks that present current stereotypes, fashions in attitudes and action, farouche or degraded visions of human nature, as if these alone were the ‘available’ models for life-responses. There can be little ground for confidence that the sometimes desperate search for the innovative and ‘different’ in art (and the role of the complex of interested promoters of particular arts—the ‘artworld’) reliably leads to morally serious and wise interpretations of human problems.

From The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

Philosophy And Public Life

Martha Nussbaum, Stelios Virvidakis

Interview with Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum discusses philosophy's capacity to influence public life; the future of political liberalism and the role of the state; and her critique of radical feminist thinkers including Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin.

Stelios Virvidakis: What do you think about the possibility of philosophy playing a more active role in public life, education, applied ethics, and so on?

Martha Nussbaum: There are many possibilities. And countries are very different. I find that the US is in a way one of the most difficult places for philosophy to play a public role because the media are so sensationalistic and so anti-intellectual. If I go to most countries in Europe I'll have a much easier time publishing in a newspaper than I would in the US. The New York Times op-ed page is very dumbed down and I no longer even bother trying to get something published there because they don't like anything that has a complicated argument. So I find the US very frustrating. At the other end of the spectrum, the Netherlands has a tremendous public culture of philosophy. They have a very large selling journal called Philosophy and my Upheavals of Thought, which is an extremely long book and is even longer in Dutch, not only sold very well in English, but was translated into Dutch a few months later and has already sold 4000 copies. So I feel that that's quite extraordinary. But it's because there are TV programmes on philosophy, things involving not just political philosophy, but things like the emotions, the mind, and so on. But one just has to cultivate that over a long period of time; the journalists, the media all have to play a role.

I have found it possible to get involved in philosophy more internationally and this was in a way a matter of luck. There is now a large and I think quite exciting association called the Human Development and Capability Association, which was launched three years ago at a conference in Pavia, Italy. Before that, there were also three other preparatory conferences; at the first, people talked about Amartya Sen's work on capabilities; the second one was about my work; the third was more general. There was a lot of interest. We were finding that young people – and not only young people but mostly – in economics, political science, philosophy, and politics were coming from all over the world. At the conference at which we officially launched the Association there were 200 hundred papers from over 86 countries. Sen was the president for the first two years; now I am the president.

But of course it is partly a matter of luck: we had the good luck to have a group of young and very talented academics who just decided this should happen. They would just not let anything stand in their way and they put in so many hours of their own work. And we now have the Journal of Human Development that is run by the United Nations Development Programme and publishes the best conference papers every year. And we're getting more and more money now to pay for the travel of people from developing countries. I think the best thing about it is that it brings people together, so that people who are working on capabilities. There are now over six hundred members of the Association, all working together, and they learn a lot about the different arguments being made. The networking between the academic and the policy world is also very strong. Our 2005 conference was at UNESCO in Paris where we had people in UNESCO participating. So I feel that's what I am now most involved in and I feel that's very hopeful.

But of course, there are dozens of other thriving partnerships in hospitals – certainly in America, but I think in many other countries – between philosophers and doctors pushing the issues of medical ethics. In the US, this changed medical practice to a great degree, particularly in the area of decision-making. There used to be an assumption that doctors know best – and they hadn't even thought about the distinction between the patient's interests and the patient's rights! When the philosophers got in, they insisted that that distinction was quite central, that deciding in somebody's best interests is one thing but giving them the right to decide is another. So now everyone understands that distinction and standards of informed consent have been refined. Now there is very sophisticated related work on emotions being done. I've just read a new paper by a psychiatrist who works in a hospital about conditions under which emotions actually remove the decisional capacity – although doctors haven't recognized that because they don't really understand how the emotions work. So in all kinds of ways this is getting to be a very major force.

I think in law, which is one of my academic appointments, it's a little bit harder because the world of the law firm is a profit-oriented world. So I can teach people about social justice, but when they go out and work with firms they're not really in a position to say, "this firm should be striving to produce social justice". Yes, if the firm takes on cases on a pro bono basis (charging no fees) they may be involved in issues of social justice, but it isn't so easy. And if lawyers go into court and talk to the judges, again they are going to be very constrained by the legal precedents and won't have much latitude to inject their philosophical perspectives. But getting people to think about these issues at all is a good thing, especially when economists are teaching them to think about other issues; one can provide a kind of counterweight to the law and economics movement, anyway.

SV: There are a lot of philosophers who contribute to discussions about law, for example Ronald Dworkin in his debates with Richard Posner. I don't know how seriously judges, and Supreme Court judges for that matter, take these things into account, or to what extent they are influenced by philosophical discussions.

MN: I think Dworkin has had close to zero influence on the actual development of the law, and the reason is partly of course that judges aren't supposed to bring in any old theory they like but to look at the precedents and the principles involved in a case. But I think there is another reason: while Dworkin is a first-rate thinker, he doesn't have much practical legal background, and in his books he doesn't talk much about actual law, so his theories need an intermediary before they can be applied to actual cases. Of course, he writes pieces in the New York Review of Books about particular cases, but those pieces are not very tightly connected to his theories. So I think a middleman is needed before that connection could become a reality. There are people who try to introduce considerations of autonomy and equity and so on in a much more hands-on way. I myself I am writing a book about religion and the First Amendment, a real law book that talks about case law but stresses some of the underlying philosophical principles that I believe run through the case law. I think that's the way you have to do it if you're going to influence actual decisions.

SV: So the other question is more concerned with political philosophy and political theory. Are you optimistic about the development of liberalism? In practice, but also after all these debates about the right and the good, and the need to supplement liberalism with some conception of the good. I take your work on the capabilities approach and the discussions about the Aristotelian element to point in that direction. Do you think that theories of liberalism have learned from this? With globalization, there's a lot of what in Greece we call neo-liberalism – though I don't know whether the term is accurate, since many liberals complain that neo-liberalism is something the Left has invented. My question is: to what extent have people like you, who really discuss the need to go beyond the austere old liberal framework, really succeeded in influencing people, including politicians, in practice. And of course, there are other people who question the republican model, which is something different, moving in a different direction.

MN: Well, there are many different ways in which a kind of quasi-Aristotelian theory of the good has entered into what we might call liberal political theory; after all it didn't start with me. It started long ago, for example in England with T. H. Green and Ernest Barker, who were perfectionist socialists. They used the Aristotelian notion of human functioning to argue in favour of compulsory education. They were an important and a clear precedent for my position. In fact, I didn't read them until much later, but anyway I now see that they were important and a precedent; their form of liberalism was very comprehensive, it was closer to something like Joseph Raz's view today. I would call that a form of comprehensive liberalism, because a notion of autonomy is used across the board to talk about lives that are well lived and so on. I think the political form of liberalism, in which we don't advocate a comprehensive doctrine of autonomy but rather certain ethical principles for the political realm, is more defensible in a world in which, for example, we have religions that don't think autonomy is a particularly great good. We don't show respect for them if we say that only autonomous lives are worthwhile. But as to the political form of liberalism, my own view is that we can defend it best if we use the idea of capabilities as our political goal, rather than thinking of the good in terms of income and wealth alone.

I think that that sort of view has received a lot of attention. Particularly through the Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Programme, capabilities are popping up all over the place. Of course, they don't bring in the whole of my political theory, they're just using the notion of capabilities comparatively to compare wellbeing in different countries. Nonetheless, you now see that pretty much every country in the world is talking the language of capabilities and making some measurements of their populations in that way. In India there's not just a national Human Development Report, but each state has its own Human Development Report. So, this language is now very widespread. I think it's important to not just have that comparative measure but to say there are certain fundamental entitlements based on the notion of capability available to all citizens.

So that takes us to the next step of thinking about constitution making: what should a constitution guarantee and how can that be implemented? But again, I think that when people are thinking about constitution making they're aware of these ideas; constitutions such as those of India and South Africa have very similar ideas, no matter what they're influenced by. So yes, I do think that these ideas about human functioning and human flourishing are actually quite widespread. And surely were widespread before I was born: a student has told me that the Social Democratic Party in Japan was founded by a pupil of Barker who brought Aristotelian ideas of human functioning to Japan and used them as the basis for a social democratic conception. I actually believe that Sen's idea of capability had such an origin, because Indians studied in Oxford, and Green and Barker taught many generations of leaders from the developing world. And I think the kind of humanist Marxism in the various Indian Marxist parties in which Sen grew up was also influenced by a kind of Marxian version of Aristotelian idea – which are very prominent, for example, in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. Wherever the ideas come from, I think the important thing is now that they do enrich the debate within liberalism and I think they should be defended in a way that's still recognizably liberal. By that I mean with an emphasis on the idea that each person is the ultimate beneficiary, not large groups of people, not even families, but each person seen as an equal of every other person. And I also think that it's a hallmark of liberalism that ideas of choice and freedom are really very, very important. Of course I think one has to stress that we don't have choice if people are just left to their own devices. The state has to act positively to create the conditions for choice. I think the libertarian position is actually quite incoherent, because there is no such thing as absence of state action. Even to defend contract and property rights, and the rule of law itself, the state must take positive action.

SV: Are you talking about so-called negative rights?

MN: Yes. If you go out into the rural areas of Bihar in India, then you see what "negative liberty" comes to. Total chaos, where nothing is being done, where there no roads, no clean water supply, no electricity, and therefore where no one can do anything, no one has anything. I am sure my colleague Richard Epstein will agree, up to a point, that a state that's going to create liberty has got to act, has at least got to protect property rights and contracts and have a police force and a fire department. But then why draw the line at that? Why not also say that the State has to create public education, has to create the systems of social welfare that makes it possible for people to access health care, unemployment benefits, and so on? So I don't see any principled way of dividing those different spheres of state action. I talk to these libertarians often, and I think the debate really comes down to the question of what's the best strategy for promoting the human capabilities. Richard Epstein actually has said to me "you know, your list of capabilities I agree with it totally, we differ only about the means. I think that private industry should be the largest agent in promoting this and you think that the state should be". I have no objection to saying that the State could sometimes delegate part of its function to the private sphere when it judges that that's sufficient, but I do want to say that the State is the one that bears the final responsibility. The State is a system for the allocation of human basic entitlements. Its job is to promote justice and wellbeing for human beings; if it's simply delegated to private industry and that doesn't work, then the State hasn't done its job.

SV: Now if I may ask you about your work on the novel, I mean literature, your work related to philosophy and literature. Do you feel that your line of ethical criticism or of using literature for ethical philosophy has succeeded in moving people towards this direction? And is the fashion for deconstruction and for very post-modern approaches somehow losing its force today? Am I right in this perception or am I being too optimistic?

MN: I think you are right. I am on the board of the School of Criticism and Theory, which is the leading, cutting edge literary theory organization in the US. When I taught in their Summer School at Cornell a few years ago I was struck by the fact that all the students were interested in law and ethics. And so were the people that founded some of these deconstruction movements. Jonathan Culler gave a lecture in which I didn't hear anything about post-modernism. It was actually mostly New Criticism, but it had an ethical element as well. I think English Departments always have problems in America, because they always feel they have to have a gimmick. Because English used not to be an academic subject – in England it was always something you were expected to know because it was your language; when you went to university you studied classics. Because English has to defend itself against people who say it's not a proper academic subject, it's prone to fads. I think we're not at the end of the fads, there'll probably be some other fad that will be again rather annoying and we'll have to fight against that one. But at present, at least, I think the post-modern one is on the way out. Whether ethics in its serious sense will become central in English departments I am not sure, because I think very few literary scholars have the patience to do the sustained hard philosophical work that's needed. Whenever they talk about philosophy, with the exception of Wayne Booth, for example, they'll talk about it in a way that seems to me quite embarrassing and amateurish. So I feel uncertain whether in English departments we are going to get revealing first-rate work of an ethical sort. But certainly through philosophy it's happening.

Now in philosophy there's always a problem, which is that many philosophers have a background that's more scientific; they don't read novels much. So you can get departments, often very good departments, where people would make fun of a literary inquiry, or think that it was not proper philosophy. In my own department, fortunately, it's not that way at all. Many people would want, for example, to teach a course on Proust. One time I found I was offering a course on Proust and somebody else was also planning to offer one. In this very tiny Department of fifteen people, there were going to be two courses on Proust and no course on a major topic in recognized moral and political philosophy. So I dropped my course on Proust and I did my course on John Stuart Mill. But you know, we all agree, and if somebody wants to do a dissertation on Proust or Henry James we are very happy. I see more and more dissertations that have a literary element. If I am advising such a student, I'll urge them not to do the whole thing on that. If, for example, they're going to write about Iris Murdoch's novels, it would be good to have some chapters that are about topics of virtue that are more mainstream. My friends in Finland organized an international conference on philosophy and literature two years ago – because in Finland philosophy is very narrow and very focused on logic and technical issues of philosophy of science, and young people who are interested in philosophy of literature and literature and ethics felt isolated. So we thought: all right, we'll bring in some of the interesting people in Europe and North America who work on this and we'll show them what a lively field of philosophy it is, and show their professors too. I think it worked really well and that there was great interest in this subject. Of course, the logicians didn't come. We can always expect it will be so. But nonetheless, it gave some encouragement to the younger people. So I think now it's a much more open field than it was when I was a graduate student, when you couldn't even write a dissertation on Aristotle's views about friendship because people would make fun of you. They would say it was too soft or something. When I wrote about tragedy, my advisor said "Oh well, for that you have to find a supervisor in the Classics Department". And I really thought no, because it is a philosophical subject I have here. It was only when Bernard Williams showed up and understood that, that I gained a sense of permission to do it and to do it within philosophy – and I am always enormously grateful to Bernard Williams for that. But I think now things are different and that there are many people whom one could turn to for encouragement.

SV: And this goes along with overcoming the analytic-continental divide?

MN: Yes, absolutely, no longer would we think that if you worked on literature or other topics in aesthetics you're non-analytic. And you wouldn't have to do it in a kind of narrow pseudo-analytic way focused on meaning or language either. So yes, it's a better time. When I was in graduate school, aesthetics tended to focus almost exclusively on visual art. So the greats of that era, Arthur Danto, Richard Wollheim, Nelson Goodman, were really talking about painting. No one was talking about music; only Stanley Cavell was talking about literature. But now that's changed, everyone is broader now.

SV: And one final question about feminism, a more philosophical question. I have always felt that you have a critical attitude towards the more extreme feminist views. I think of people like Andrea Dworkin and to some extent Catharine MacKinnon. To what extent has your intervention influenced this sort of more radical feminist? Have things changed do you think, have things become more balanced today?

MN: My view about MacKinnon and Dworkin is extremely positive, as I've said both in Sex and Social Justice and in Hiding From Humanity. I think that both are great and I have great enthusiasm for their views. I don't agree with absolutely everything.

SV: You tend to be more universal, more ecumenical...

MN: MacKinnon thinks that she is an opponent of liberalism. And she thinks that, because when she went to graduate school liberalism was very underdeveloped and wasn't thinking about women's issues at all. Especially in law, liberalism was just talking about how all principles should be neutral, and so she thought that it makes no room for affirmative action. For example, there were insurance companies that did not give pregnancy benefits and legal liberals argued that this was OK, there is no sex discrimination here, because all non-pregnant persons, both male and female, are going to get the benefits. And she thought that this was ridiculous and of course it was. But that sort of obtuseness is not entailed by liberalism. She had never studied Rawls, she had never studied Dworkin, she had never studied any of the really theoretical works that think that there's a Kantian idea of human equality and human dignity at the bottom of liberalism. She's stressed that she had studied Mill, and she thought Mill was great, you know she is my colleague so I talk to her all the time. So she really objected to a kind of neutralism that was very influential in the legal realm, that made affirmative action for women impossible and refused to take seriously these differences of power. But of course Rawls never had that failing.

My primary difference with MacKinnon is that she is reluctant to express any universal norms or ideals. I think the reason for this is her Marxist background, because she thinks we first have to have the revolution and then once the revolution has taken place, women themselves will say what they want to say. She thinks it's too dictatorial to announce ahead of time what the norms are. However, in her writings there's a very obvious normative structure. There are ideas of dignity and equality. Andrea Dworkin is actually explicit about this, and in fact MacKinnon will say "Oh yes, that's the humanism in Andrea that I always find so unfortunate." She herself will admit that Andrea is sort of on my side in this debate. But I think she herself is, when you philosophically reconstruct her views. I don't think you can do it without employing normative notions; to the extent that she does avoid them it just means that her own ideas are underdeveloped and that there's not enough of a principled structure. I think that her views about sexual harassment are very, very important. Her emphasis on differences of power in the workplace is extremely important, as is her idea that what we have to look at is not just sameness or difference of treatment but the underlying structures of power. I think it's a liberal idea. I differ with some of her specific claims about pornography. But I don't actually think that's so central.

SV: What do you think of Andrea Dworkin's book Intercourse?

MN: Oh, I think Intercourse is a great book, I teach it all the time, but it's not about pornography. Andrea Dworkin is a fiction writer really. She's not a philosopher, so she doesn't always write with a great deal of definitional precision. I wrote a piece which is in "Sex and Social Justice" about philosophers and prophets in which I contrasted myself with her with some kind of unease, because I think philosophers don't want to move to the next step until they patiently make the right distinctions. Whereas I think Dworkin is a prophet. Her mentor was Frederick Douglass, she wants to get out there and denounce an evil. And like Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, she doesn't always define her terms precisely. So what I think she really is doing in Intercourse is saying that it's not just this or that evil offender that we need to be worried about, it is social norms themselves. When men use force against women, it's not enough to say: oh well that was a bad guy, or: that was a pervert, but that the problem is intrinsic to some of our social norms. Men think they have a right to use force in certain circumstances, when they've paid for the woman and they've got drunk and so on. Actually sociological evidence shows this. Edward Laumann, who is the greatest sociologist of American sexual behaviour, in his large tome called The Social Organization of Sexuality, said that the biggest problem that emerged from his careful survey of American sexual behaviour was a tremendous discrepancy between men's perception of what is force in the sexual situation and women's. Men simply don't believe that they're using force if the woman is drunk and they just go right ahead. And then the woman does think that that was force. So I think we made progress in having a social dialogue about that. But when Andrea Dworkin wrote, we hadn't had that dialogue yet. Still in some states in America, we haven't had it. Here is one case that was decided in Illinois quite recently. A woman who weighed 95 pounds was riding her bicycle in a forest preserve. A man who weighed 200 pounds came up to her and said: "Will you come with me into the forest? My girlfriend doesn't satisfy my needs". There is no one around, and he just picks her up off the bicycle and without struggling or fighting she goes along with his sexual demands in the woods. He was first convicted of rape, but the high court threw out the conviction saying she hadn't struggled to the utmost. You see, she was alone; she probably would have died if she had struggled! That's the kind of thing Andrea Dworkin is talking about. And the best criminal lawyers are very inspired by her and try to rewrite rape law and try to make it more adequate.

I think MacKinnon and Dworkin have made great contributions. MacKinnon happens to be a very good friend of mine by now also, but she is a great thinker I believe. I think MacKinnon is misunderstood as being a man-hater and that seems to me quite wrong. It's not as if she hasn't got some of the blame to bear for that because her writings are not systematic works. They're public speeches that she delivered in the heat of the moment that were recorded and then published. If my only works were my recorded interviews I would probably be misunderstood. But she should have written a more patient philosophical book. A Feminist Theory of the State is not really that book, because it was her dissertation. It does not answer the questions that philosophers raise about her views. Her new book on international law and women's human rights is in some ways her best, because its conceptual clarity is very evident.

The ones I don't think are so very helpful are the post-modernist feminists like Judith Butler whom I have criticized very strongly. I think that her refusal to advocate any norms and her advocacy of parodic acts of resistance is a turning away from the task of real social struggle in which we used to be engaged. And when I see academic feminists saying: well we can write these elegant papers in a jargon which parody the norms, I want to know where the feminist struggle that we had is. Laws and institutions haven't changed enough, so we should have a lot more solidarity with women who are working to change them, and we should theorize in a way that is helpful to that struggle. So that's my complaint against the Butler group.

And then the Carol Gilligan group: I think their work is not so good and I think it provides a handy rationale for the exploitation of women as caregivers. So I am very critical of those two groups.

SV: Thank you very much.
Source: Cogito, Greece, 5/2006

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Aristotle on Making Other Selves *

[Aristotle's view on friendship]

By Elijah Millgram / Philosophy Department
University of Utah
From Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (2), June 1987: 361-376.


There is still a relative paucity of discussion of the views on friendship that Aristotle presents in the Nicomachean Ethics,1 although some recent work may indicate a new trend. One suspects that this paucity reflects a belief that those views are not very interesting; if true, this witnesses to an unfortunate underestimation of Aristotle's account. This account is in fact quite surprising, for -- I shall argue -- Aristotle believes that one makes one's friends in the most literal sense of the verb.
Aristotle takes virtue-friendship, i.e., the friendship of virtuous people who are friends for virtue, as 'friendship in the primary way.' Other 'friendships' -- for utility and for pleasure -- are only so-called by way of similarity to friendship proper, i.e., virtue-friendship (1157a30ff). Accordingly, proper friendship must be non-instrumental, or, more carefully, not essentially instrumental, unlike the friendship-analogs that fall outside the scope of friendship proper (1157a17-20). While 'friends of utility... were never friends of each other, but of what was expedient for them' (1157a14ff), a true 'friend is taken to be someone who wishes and does goods or apparent goods to his friend for the friend's own sake' (1166a3). The theme of desiring and acting for the friend's own sake is repeated many times in the Ethics;2 in the Rhetoric it is explicitly taken as definitive of friendship (1361b35-40). Since the contrast between true friendship and mere friendship-analogs is that between the not essentially instrumental (for the sake of the friend) and the essentially instrumental (using the friend as a means to pleasure or utility), a successful account of Aristotle's views on friendship must preserve and explain this contrast in all its centrality.3
In doing so, one must be careful not to take friendship for virtue in such a way as to render friends a fungible commodity.4 The problem is this. Aristotle believes that one loves a friend for his virtue (cf., e.g., 1171a20, 1156b6ff). But there are (one hopes) many virtuous people, and, indeed, many persons who are more virtuous than the friends one actually has. If the friend's virtue provides the reason for the friendship, it would seem that one has identical reason to love all virtuous persons, or, if this is not possible, to replace one's virtuous friends with still more virtuous persons. But it is something like a conceptual truth about friendship that one has relatively few friends (according to Aristotle, roughly the number that one can live with -- 1171a1-3). A similar truth is that one does not rush off to replace one's somewhat virtuous friends with still more virtuous acquaintances. Friends are not replaceable: even when one loses old friends and makes new ones, it is not accurate to think of the new as replacing the old; moreover Aristotle takes virtuous friendship to be (pretty much) permanent (1156b18). There are many individuals who cannot claim the prerogatives of one's friendship, even though they may share in the admirable properties of those who can. This requires explanation. Why does one (appropriately) love one virtuous acquaintance rather than another? And why can one not simply replace a virtuous friend with some other, equally virtuous person?


With these constraints in mind, let's turn to Aristotle's account of friendship. Certain Aristotelian expressions -- to the effect that one wishes goods to one's friend for his own sake, and that the friend is another self -- appear too many times to be dismissed as less than central.5 It is worth trying to take them seriously, which -- at the risk of sticking to a stuffy notion of seriousness -- suggests taking them as literally as possible.
How are we to understand these expressions? The claim that the friend is another self suggests that the right way to do so is to think about one's own self. In one's own case, one has that special concern for one's projects and one's future that expresses itself in, among other things, prudence. This special concern is often felt to be one that terminates justification: 'Why do X?' can be answered by 'X is good for me,' whereas 'Why do what's good for you?' seems like a non-question. One way of putting this fact about us is to say that one desires the good for oneself for one's own sake (rather than for the sake of anything else). When Aristotle says that the friend is another self, that one desires the good for one's friend for the friend's sake, Aristotle is at least saying that one has for one's friend the same kind of special concern that one has for oneself, that the concern for the friend is justification-terminating in the same way that one's concern for oneself is justification-terminating.
The reading that takes concern for the friend, like self-concern, to be justification-terminating is supported by Aristotle's description of one's relation to oneself as the paradigmatic case of friendship: 'one is a friend to himself most of all' (1168b9). Aristotle thinks that the defining features of friendships with others are derived from friendship with oneself, and takes as the central instance of this the desire one has for goods and apparent goods for one's own sake (1166a1-5, 15-17). '[A]n extreme degree of friendship resembles one's friendship to oneself' (1166b1; see also 1171b33). On this interpretation, friendships are not essentially instrumental, any more than one's relation to oneself is merely or essentially instrumental. Part of what it is for a tool to be (solely) a tool is that it is always used for something: there is always a reason extrinsic to the tool for what one does to and with it. This is precisely what justification-termination in the friend does not permit.6
We have here two apparently distinct notions: that of wanting the good for one's friend for his own sake, and that of the friend's being another self. How are they related? One might think that the fact that one desires the good for one's friend for the friend's own sake is constitutive, perhaps exhaustively constitutive, of the friend's being another self: to say that the friend is another self is just to say that one desires the good for one's friend for his own sake.7 As a treatment of friendship, I think this approach to have many merits; however, I doubt that it can be successfully imported into Aristotle exegesis.
There are two reasons for thinking this. Recall that we are trying to take the Aristotelian locutions as seriously (and as literally) as possible. If the friend is another self, then what makes one's friend, one's friend is the same thing that makes oneself, oneself. This can be maintained together with the reading that takes other-self-dom to be constituted by special concern provided that one believes8 that one's own self is (at least partially) constituted by self-concern. But whatever the merits of this position, it is implausibly attributed to Aristotle, whose account of what makes oneself, oneself, will be a far more metaphysical story. This story is likely to have to do with species form and matter, and possibly with individual forms; the issue is controversial.9 In any case, it is very unlikely to have much to do with concern. That's one reason.
Here's the other. If 'one's friend is another self' and 'one desires the good for one's friend for his own sake' are just different ways of saying the same thing (or if 'the friend is another self' merely abbreviates 'one desires the good for one's friend for his own sake' and some other statements about other-self-dom), then the fact that the friend is another self can no more cause, explain or justify one's desiring the good for one's friend for his own sake than synonyms can cause, explain or justify one another. Aristotle, however, thinks that the friend's being another self at least explains desiring the good for him for his own sake: 'The decent person, then, has each of these features (which include desiring goods for one's own sake) in relation to himself, and is related to his friend as he is to himself, since [gar] the friend is another self' (1166a30-32; cf. 1166a3, 15-17).
The suggestion that one desires the good for one's friend because he is another self10 raises anew the question of where justification terminates. There does seem to be an answer to the question 'Why do what's good for your friend?' -- namely, that he is another self. However, the analogy between friendship and self-love is preserved if we hear such an answer as spoken in the same tone of voice that the first-person question would elicit: 'I do what's good for me because I'm myself.' And it may be that these explanations do not provide additional justification -- in the sense of adducing a further end for which the explanandum is an instrumental means -- but rather explanation of another kind. At any rate, Aristotle seems to agree that we do desire the good for our own sakes because we are ourselves, although just what this comes to is a tricky question.11 This leaves us the tasks of elucidating the 'because,' and of saying what it is for the friend to be another self.


Elucidating the 'because' must wait on elucidating other-self-dom, and to do this, a detour is necessary. The 'friendship of kindred and that of companions' constitute a separate class, different from other kinds of friendship (1161b11f).12 Kinship-friendship is uniformly derivative from the love of parents for their children (1161b16f), and importantly, parental love shares with comradely friendship the feature we are trying to understand: 'A parent loves his children as [he loves] himself. For what has come from him is a sort of other himself' (1161b27-30; cf. 1161b18f). By transitivity of identity, as it were, brothers are 'identical with each other,' since they are identical with their parents. They are 'in a sense the same thing, although in separate individuals' (1161b30-35). Since kinship-friendship and companion-friendship belong together, and share the features that we are trying to explain, and since kinship-friendship derives from parental friendship, we may be able to understand companion-friendship by way of parental friendship.
One can abstract from the parent-child relation to a relation that we shall call procreation. If A is a procreator of B, then (i) A is a creator of B in the sense that A is causally responsible for B's being,13 and (ii) B has the same being that A does. Now before arguing that the friend-friend relation is an instance of the procreation relation, I will argue that procreation is well-suited to explain the link between other-self-dom and special concern.
Procreation -- indeed, even its creation component -- seems to cause the kind of special concern we have been considering. '[E]veryone likes his own products more than (other people's), as parents and poets do' (1120b13). In the parent-child case, this is especially clear: the parent comes to love his children as a causal consequence -- perhaps even as a side-effect -- of their being his children. Craftsmen also have this preferential attitude towards their products (1167b34f; cf. 1168a1-3). The procreative relation underlies the love of the benefactor for his beneficiary: 'the beneficiary is his product and hence he likes him...' (1168a4-6, my italics).
The explanation of this phenomenon is worth quoting in full:
1. Being is choiceworthy and lovable for all.
2. We are insofar as we are actualized, since we are insofar as we live and act.
3. The product is, in a way, the producer in his actualization.
4. Hence the producer is fond of the product, because he loves his own being. And this is natural, since what he is potentially is what the product indicates in actualization. (1168a5-10)
So far, this explains both the parent's love for his children and the potter's preferential fondness for his own pots. The difference between these can be accounted for by our second condition on procreation: The producer loves his own being, and in procreation the creator has the same being as the creature. The potter is not himself a pot, so that pot and potter do not fully share the same being (except insofar as the pot is an actualization of the potter); but parent and child are both human beings, and share the (appropriate kind of) same being.
Now I don't want to try to reconstruct here the metaphysics that makes this way of thinking about these things plausible to Aristotle; suffice it that Aristotle does find it plausible. (At Physics 202b5 he explicitly states that '[i]t is not absurd that the actualization of one thing should be in another,' giving as example the actualization of the teacher in the student. Compare Metaphysics 1058a28-32.) For now, let's just say that the creature is the procreator's 'other self' because the procreator is responsible for the creature's having the being that they share, and it is natural for the procreator to have a special concern for his creature as an actualization of his being.


The next item on our agenda is the claim that one is a procreator of one's friend. To be sure, one is not one's friend's procreator in the same way that a parent is his child's procreator: generally one's friends are living flesh and blood before they are one's friends. The force of the claim is rather that, over the course of a friendship, one becomes (causally) responsible for the friend's being who he is. Now Aristotle thinks that friendships are because of or for virtue. These positions coincide if virtue is (part of) what makes the virtuous man who he is. The being of a child for which his parent is causally responsible is, we can say, his human being; the being of one's friend for which one is responsible is his virtuous being. The former is, if you like, what he is; the latter is who he is.
This line of argument involves two subsidiary tasks. We must convince ourselves that Aristotle takes virtue to be (part of) what makes the virtuous man who he is. (I'll defer this to section V.) And we should say something about the causal role that the virtuous man plays in bringing about or maintaining his friend's virtue. A partial description can be appropriated from Cooper, who provides the following account of Aristotle's 'arguments to show that friendship is an essential constituent of a flourishing human life':
[F]irst... to know the goodness of one's life, which [Aristotle] reasonably assumes to be a necessary condition of flourishing, one needs to have intimate friends whose lives are similarly good, since one is better able to reach a sound and secure estimate of the quality of a life when it is not one's own. Second,... the fundamental moral and intellectual activities that go to make up a flourishing life cannot be continuously engaged in with pleasure and interest, as they must be if the life is to be a flourishing one, unless they are engaged in as parts of shared activities rather than pursued merely in private; and given the nature of the activities that are in question, this sharing is possible only with intimate friends who are themselves morally good persons.14
To paraphrase the suggestions as crudely as possible, one's friends serve as human mirrors in which one can better see one's own virtue;15 and one's friends are the teammates one needs to play the game of a virtuous life. I agree with Cooper that these are some of the ways in which we influence our friends' virtue, although there are surely others; moral education is another prominent possibility.16 This influence plays an important role in my account, but this role is causal rather than justificatory. Our current task is to elucidate the 'because' in 'One desires the friend's good for his own sake because he is another self'; we already know that the 'because' cannot represent a means-end relation, because friendships are essentially non-instrumental.17 So these considerations cannot be instrumental reasons for having friends. But what are they, if not instrumental reasons?
My suggestion is, causes. Let A and B be friends, and let B be (partly) responsible for (at least the maintenance of) A's virtue, in that B serves as a human mirror, and is a team-mate in A's virtuous activities. Cooper takes these facts to provide A with (instrumental) reasons for befriending B. But Cooper has things backwards. The causal facts, rather than providing A with instrumental reasons to befriend B, explain B's love for A. B loves A because he is a procreator of A, and procreators love their creatures. These causal interactions make each friend the other's 'other self,' and bring about the love of the friend for his own sake. (In like manner, the symmetrical facts explain A's love for B; just as B is a procreator of A, so A is a procreator of B.)18
It might be objected that one assists one's friends in being virtuous because they already are one's friends; so that they cannot be one's friends because one assists them in being virtuous. The appearance of circularity here can be dealt with by pointing out that the instances of assistance may be distinct: a present or future favor to a friend is prompted by his being a friend now; his being my friend now may be a result of past favors to one another's virtue. These in turn may have been prompted by the friendship of a still earlier time. To this it might be objected that a regress has been substituted for vicious circularity. But it need not be the case that all my actions that assist others in being virtuous be prompted by prior friendship. Some may be due to spontaneous good will (1155b35ff, 1167a3-13; cf. 1156b26-30), and some may be the virtuous actions that one is bound to perform in the course of leading a virtuous life.
Let me review the merits of this account. It is explicitly non-instrumental. It explains why one loves the particular virtuous people that one in fact does love, and in so doing, explains the numerical constraint Aristotle imposes on the size of one's circle of friends: while there are many virtuous people, one is only causally responsible (in the appropriate way) for the virtue of a few. The self-perpetuating character of the causal relations explains the permanence of friendship (cf. 1156b18): virtuous friends assist one another in remaining virtuous, and this mutual assistance keeps them friends. While friends can be corrupted, and while long separation can sever the causal links (1157b10-14), in general friends do not cease to be one another's procreators.19 Finally, the account rules out the interchangeability and replacement of virtuous friends: A and B may be equally virtuous, but if one is causally responsible for A's virtue but not for B's, then one will love A and not B.


The most important piece of unfinished business is the job of attributing to Aristotle the claim that virtue is (a part of) what makes the virtuous man who he is. This claim deserves a paper unto itself, so I'm going to suffice with reviewing reasons for thinking that Aristotle did endorse it. The claim can be taken in two ways, corresponding to a stronger and weaker way of understanding the expression 'who someone is.' The question 'Who are you?' can prompt on the one hand, an answer like, 'My name's Horatio Alger,' or 'I'm the president of Alger Enterprises,' and on the other, an answer like 'I'm a Young Republican,' or 'I'm someone who clawed his way up from poverty to the pinnacle of financial success.' That is, it can elicit a response that picks out the individual himself (by name or definite description) -- this is what I am calling the strong sense -- or it can elicit a certain kind of characterization of the individual which does not necessarily apply only to him. There is strong textual evidence for the weaker version, which is the version of the claim for which I shall argue.20 First, though, it is necessary to say something, however, briefly, about the force of the weak version of the claim.
Clearly, not just any characterization of an individual will do as an answer to the question, 'Who are you?' Consider the examples just given: to answer with one's party affiliation or with one's financial history is to indicate that one identifies oneself very strongly with one's political position or with the abilities and aspects of one's personality that brought one to the top of the heap. It is appropriate to answer with traits that one believes to be central to one's character, the kind of traits that someone who wants to be loved for him- or herself might regard as traits that it would be appropriate to be loved for. Of course, what one believes one's characteristic traits to be and what they in fact are may well be two very different stories. Still, who one is is largely a matter of one's character, and some traits are more central to one's character than others. To claim that virtue is part of what makes the virtuous man who he is is to say that his virtues exhibit this kind of centrality relative to his character.
This is very much Aristotle's view. At 1156a10, he says that '[t]hose who love each other for utility love not the other in himself'; and at line 17 that utility- and pleasure-friendships 'are coincidental, since the beloved is loved not in so far as he is who he is.' Utility- and pleasure-friendships are here being contrasted with virtue-friendships, so the implication is that those who love another for his virtue love him in himself, and that the virtue-beloved is loved insofar as he is who he is.21 If loving someone for his virtues is loving him for who he is, then his virtues must be a large part of who he is.
We can complement these inferences from contrasting cases with positive evidence. Good people, we are told, 'will be friends because of themselves, since they are friends insofar as they are good' (1157b2-3; compare 1156b8, 1157a17-20). More tenuously, 1171a19f (which speaks of being the friend of people 'for their virtue and for themselves') suggests that being someone's friend for his virtue is the same thing as being his friend for himself. And at 1112a2-3 Aristotle states that our ethical decisions -- which are either partly constitutive or symptomatic of our virtues -- make us the sort of persons we are.
If virtues are a central part of who their possessor is, we should expect them to be among the most stable of character traits; and this is how Aristotle regards them. Virtuous characters are stable (1100b13-20, 1167b5-10, 1156b13), unlike those of the vicious, who 'do not even remain similar to what they were' (1159b9; cf. 1156a20). '[V]irtuous people are enduringly [virtuous] in themselves, and enduring [friends] to each other' (1159b3f). Aristotle does admit that the virtuous can become corrupted (1165b1, 13ff). But his discussion of such cases supports the claim for which we are arguing. In justifying one's ceasing to associate with a once-virtuous but corrupted friend, Aristotle states that one 'was not the friend of a person of this sort' (1165b22f). If losing one's virtue makes one a different kind of person, then one's virtue is central to making one the kind of person one is, and is a character trait of the appropriate centrality.22
Earlier on we said that Aristotle takes virtue-friendship to be the sole genuine form of friendship. We can now explain why. While it is plausible to think that I have causal effects on my pleasure- and utility-'friends,' and that I am responsible for maintaining certain features or properties of theirs (probably those features and properties that make them pleasurable and useful to me), these properties and features -- unlike virtues -- are not, on Aristotle's view, among those that make persons (and in particular, my pleasure- and utility-'friends') who they are. Being virtuous is a large part of what it is to be a human being, whence of what it is to be the virtuous person that one is. On the other hand, being useful to me and being pleasant to me are not a part of being who one is.23 This is why, despite superficial similarities, virtuous friendships turn out to be related to pleasure- and utility-'friendships' in much the way that ducks turn out to be related to toy ducks.


An additional strength of my view is that it allows us to reconcile Aristotle's account of friendship with his commitment to what Vlastos calls 'the Eudaemonist Axiom' (EA), i.e., with the claim that all one's actions are done for the sake of one's own eudaemonia (roughly, happiness or well-living);24 and to do so without sacrificing the motivational plausibility of the EA. The difficulty is that the EA seems to conflict with Aristotle's strongly held view that one desires the friend's good for his own sake. It suggests that while 'Why do what's good for you?' may be a non-question, the parallel question, i.e., 'Why do what's good for your friend?' cannot be.
One response is to suggest that Aristotle's conception of eudaemonia is such as to reconcile the two claims. Eudaemonia is not be understood as restricted to a person's narrowly conceived interests; it is not, for instance, a hedonist's conception of happiness. Rather, it may include such things as the happiness of others. On such a construal, I can desire the good for my friend for his own sake while adhering to the EA because my friend's good is part of my own eudaemonia; whenever I act for my friend's sake I am also acting for my sake.25
While I do endorse this move, it is important to see why it must be made with caution. For it seems to threaten the psychological plausibility and motivational force of the EA. The claim that one does (and should) act for the sake of one's own eudaemonia loses much of its persuasive power when eudaemonia is construed not as something like the personal happiness in which an egoist would take a healthy interest but rather as a collection containing one's own (narrowly conceived) happiness, the (narrowly conceived) happiness of others, and possibly additional unrelated items. That is, while the conflict can be resolved by broadening one's reading of eudaemonia to include the eudaemonia of one's friends, if this leaves one's eudaemonia broader than oneself, the EA will be undercut.
The doctrine of the friend being another self resolves the difficulty by giving selfhood as broad a scope as eudaemonia. In the paradigm of the procreative relation, 'a parent is fond of his children because he regards them as something of himself' (1161b18f). In a way, the relation resembles that which one has to one's parts: '[A] person regards what comes from him as his own, as the owner regards his tooth or hair or anything' (1161b23f) -- and, 'what is our own is pleasant' (1169b33). The eudaemonia of one's friends is part of one's own because, and in the same way that, one's friends are parts of oneself.
One might be troubled by the fact that this reading seems to leave little room for what we might want to call genuine altruism. There is truth in this, but the responsibility for our discomfort is Aristotle's. Aristotle's explanations of friendship are uniformly self-oriented: since 'we are insofar as we are actualized,' loving one's own being involves loving the actualizations of one's own being (1168a5ff) -- and these include one's friends.26
By way of a last word, perhaps I should point out that in attributing to Aristotle the account of friendship set forth in this paper I am -- I hope not too uncharitably -- ascribing to him opinions that I myself would not care to endorse. It seems to me that self-love is playing too great, and the wrong kind of, a role. As Robert Frost puts it in his poem, 'Hyla Brook': 'We love the things we love for what they are' -- not for what we have made them.27

(*) I'm grateful to Richard Kraut, Gregory Vlastos, and -- especially -- Jennifer Whiting for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper, as well as to the anonymous readers provided by this Journal.

1. References, unless otherwise indicated, are to the Nicomachean Ethics (NE); the translations are generally those of Terence Irwin (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett 1985). Throughout this paper, 'friendship,' 'love' and their cognates will be used to translate 'philia' and its relatives. A review of the difficulties in translating the term can be found in John Cooper, 'Aristotle on Friendship,' in A. Rorty, ed., Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press 1980) 301-40.
2. 1155b31, 1156b7-10, 1159a10, 1164a34, 1166a3, 1168a34, 1168b3; cf. also 1156a13.
3. Cooper, 'Aristotle on Friendship,' argues that pleasure- and utility-friendships have a substantial non-instrumental component. This is the point of distinguishing between essentially instrumental friendships (that have non-instrumental features, as in Cooper's example of the businessman who becomes willing to do small favors for a regular customer) and friendships that are essentially non-instrumental. Although Cooper's treatment tends to assimilate the different kinds of friendships to one another (on this point, see also note 17), it is clear that utility- and pleasure-friendships fall on the essentially instrumental side of the divide. In section V we will see a more principled way of spelling out the distinction between these and friendship for the sake of the friend.
So this is not to say that (true) friends don't have their uses. Aristotle is aware that friends have instrumental value (most notably at 1099a31-b2). The friend is a benefactor in the hour of need, and an opportunity for the exercise of virtue when fortune is generous (1155a5ff, 1169b11-16). At one point, Aristotle describes having friends as 'the greatest external good' (1169b10), a characterization that may suggest to some instrumental rather than intrinsic value. It is thus worth recalling that Aristotle thinks that external goods (such as health) can have both intrinsic and instrumental value, and that the latter need not preclude the former. See note 6.
4. Now it might be objected that while this is a natural way for us to understand friendship, it is not obviously so for Aristotle. Aristotle takes friends to love one another for virtue, and since one virtuous person is, qua virtuous person, like another, friends must be, as it were, a fungible commodity. Such a position conflicts so strongly with our pretheoretical understanding of friendship and with the general tone of Aristotle's discussion of it that its only support can be our inability to find a preferred construal of the claim that one loves a friend for his virtue. As we shall see, an alternative is available. Moreover, this reading will be extremely hard put to solve the puzzle I am about to pose, i.e., to explain why one loves just those virtuous people that one does love out of the many that one might.
5. For the former, see note 2. For the latter, 1166a30-33, 1166b1, 1169b6, 1170b6f, 1171b33; cf. also 1171a20.
6. To be sure, there do appear to be instrumental uses of one's friends: Aristotle states (to translate as literally as possible) that 'many things are done just as through instruments also as through friends and political power' (1099b1f), and that 'your friend, since he is another yourself, supplies what your own efforts cannot supply' (1169b6). But in the same, somewhat stilted way, one can make instrumental use of oneself (as in 'the movement of limbs that are the instruments' -- 1110a16). It is probably more appropriate to regard this kind of instrumentality as a sort of extended agency: 'what our friends achieve is, in a way, achieved through our agency, since the origin is in us' (1112b28). See note 3.
7. Jennifer Whiting presents such a view -- although not as an interpretation of Aristotle -- in 'Friends and Future Selves,' Philosophical Review 45 (1986), 547-80.
8. As does Whiting, ibid.
9. Cf. Edwin Hartman, Substance, Body and Soul (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1977) 10-56; Jennifer Whiting, 'Form and Individuation in Aristotle,' History of Philosophy Quarterly 3 (1986), 359-77.
10. I'm not claiming that one desires the good for one's friend for his own sake only because he is another self. One might, for example, feel good will towards Masons, and so also to one's Masonic friends.
11. Before mentioning the tricky question, a caveat: Actually, we desire apparent goods for our apparent selves, and the base, Aristotle recognizes, may, in addition to mistaking apparent goods for goods, mistake their apparent selves for their real selves, as when they try to 'gratify their appetites and in general their feelings and the non-rational parts of the soul' rather than reason (1168b20; cf. 1168b30-1169a3). Moreover, the very base may not even desire goods for themselves at all -- partly because they find themselves unbearable, and partly because they may lack coherently organized personalities, i.e., full-fledged selves (1166b2-27). So, more precisely, when we desire the good for our own sakes, we do so because we are ourselves.
Now while Aristotle often enough seems to commit himself to the view that we desire the good for our own sakes because we are ourselves, other remarks indicate that we desire the good for ourselves for our own sakes on account of our own virtue. These views need not be taken as contradicting one another if the latter can be taken as sketching the internal structure of the former. Such a construal would also be convenient for the line of exegesis I am advocating in another way, since I am about to argue that it is causing the friend's virtues that makes him my friend. My attempt to be literal about the 'another self' locution should then make me want to say that it is causing my own virtues that makes me myself; and the kind of account of the relation between one's virtues and one's selfhood I have in mind would allow me to say something sufficiently like this. Providing a full-fledged account of this kind would take me too far afield, so I will not do it here. However, I'll defend a more modest version of the claim in section V.
12. Aristotle seems to be contrasting companionly friendship with that of relatives and possibly with the political friendships of the immediately preceding passages, so I take the scope of 'companionly friendship' to be what we ordinarily take as friendship, with the proviso that Aristotle would have in mind genuine, i.e., virtue-friendship.
13. After comparing the relation between parents and children to that between gods and men, Aristotle brings to our attention the crucial fact that gods and parents are respectively 'the causes of [the] being' of men and children (1162a4-7). And at 1161a17 Aristotle describes the father as 'the cause of his children's being.'
14. Cooper, 330f.
15. The phrase 'human mirror' is Cooper's, adapted from the Magna Moralia (MM). The 'human mirror' argument seems to me the more dubious of the two. First, in making it out Cooper draws heavily on the MM (1213a10-26), which should be used with caution when trying to establish the views of the NE. For even if, as some deny, the MM is authentic, it may represent a stage in the development of Aristotle's thought distinct from that of the NE. Cooper appears to regard the MM passage as a more straightforward form of the argument of NE 1169b27-1170a4 and of 1170a15-b7. But it is not clear to me 1) that the two just-mentioned passages both contain the same argument or 2) that either NE passage contains the argument of the MM passage. Indeed, the contrast between the generally admitted obscurity of the NE passages and the relative clarity of the MM passage casts doubt on the claim.
Second, Cooper prefers his view to Ross's alternative construal of 1169b27-1170a4, which he regards as circular. But it is not clear that the argument, properly understood, is circular. Cooper points out that, on Ross's construal, 'Aristotle simply assumes, altogether without explicit warrant, that the good man will have friends' (318) -- and this is an inappropriate assumption in an argument for having friends. But Cooper conflates the project of demonstrating 'the value to a person of his having friends' (318), with the distinct project of providing someone who has no friends with reasons to acquire them. Were Aristotle's aim the latter, rather than that of explaining to the virtuous person why his friends are valuable, the argument would indeed be circular. But notice that the argument, construed in this way, renders friendship essentially instrumental: a friendship formed in order to attain the pleasure promised by the argument would be one of the friendship-analogs, rather than true friendship.
If, instead, part of being virtuous is contributing to the virtue of others, and if -- as we shall see -- this has as a causal consequence that the virtuous man acquires friends, then the alleged circularity disappears. For then it is simply a fact that the virtuous man does have friends. Raising the question of the value of these friends is in such a case not at all the same as asking for reasons to make friends. So Ross-like interpretations, which do not require excursions to the MM and are thus to be preferred, remain open.
Given the foregoing, one might wonder why I adopt the 'human mirror' story at all. The reason is that even if these views were not in the foreground when the NE was composed, Aristotle may still have had 'human mirrors' in mind when thinking of the ways in which friends affect each other's virtue. There are undoubtedly many ways in which this happens, and Aristotle need not have enumerated in the NE all those he had discovered. For our purposes it suffices to supply plausibly Aristotelian examples of such causal relations.
16. Recall Physics 202b5, and see note 18 below.
17. When Cooper takes the function of these arguments to be that of 'defend[ing] the value of friendship only by showing that for human beings it is a necessary means to attaining certain broadly valuable psychological benefits' (Cooper, 332, italics mine) he is providing an unsatisfactory, because (solely) instrumental, account of friendship. And, not incidentally, an account that cannot explain the non-interchangeability of friends. Cooper's position in 'Aristotle on Friendship' seems to me schizophrenic: he denies that he is producing an essentially instrumental account of friendship, and in the first part of the paper seems more or less successful; but the latter half produces what is, denials notwithstanding, just such an account. Since the two parts of the paper were originally separately published papers (see Cooper's note 1), there may be an historical explanation for the final version's split personality. I will confine myself here to explaining why the story that Cooper gives is in fact essentially instrumental.
Mirrors - even human mirrors -- are tools used for a specified purpose; this is true despite Cooper's flat denial on p. 333. Those who cooperate with one in a shared activity are, on the account presented, instruments towards one's performance of that activity. Cooper distinguishes between shared activities like chess, in which co-participants need have solely instrumental value, and shared virtuous activities, which require intimate acquaintance in order to ascertain and apprehend the co-participant's virtue; such intimate acquaintance is, Cooper thinks, sufficient for friendship. A similar line is taken regarding 'human mirrors.'
This is an interesting argument, but its links will not bear the strain that Cooper puts on them. For one thing, intimate acquaintance is by no means sufficient for friendship (as anyone who has ever shared his living quarters will testify). For another, ascertaining the virtue of another need not require intimate acquaintance. Virtues are something like dispositional psychological states. We can imagine that psychologists discover ways of reading these states off of a person's nervous system. They then build virtuometers, which quickly and reliably evaluate a person's virtue index. (If we want to make the story less anachronistic, we can imagine that the gods, who see into the souls of men, sponsor Virtue Evaluation Oracles in downtown Athens.) Under such circumstances it is very easy for virtuous persons to find guaranteed-to-be-virtuous co-participants in virtuous activities. But it would be unreasonable to describe such people -- people like the stranger with whom I have agreed, on the basis of his 98.7 Composite Virtue Index, to cooperate in building a temple -- as friends. Such devices could also, with a little more story-telling, be made to take the place of 'human mirrors'; instead of using one's friend to study one's own virtue, one could take virtuometer readings. Stories like this one show that 'human mirrors' and co-participants in virtuous activities are, qua occupiers of these roles, simply instrumental means to an end; they can be replaced by gadgets like virtuometers or by virtuometer-certified strangers because they are already no more than tools, and any tool, qua tool, is replaceable by anything else that serves the same purpose. Cooper's account, then construes friends as essentially instrumental, and as a fungible commodity.
18. A question that might be raised is whether my account can be extended to 'civic friendship' -- the somewhat weaker form of philia that is found between fellow citizens. (Even if it cannot, this is not an objection to the account; for Aristotle thinks that 'we should set apart the friendship of families and that of companions' [1161b11f].) Now, the citizens of the Greek polis took one of its primary functions to be that of educating its citizens. This education involved not merely the transmission of skills and information but a broader mission, involving the inculcation of virtues, that we can call the shaping of character. This widely shared opinion was also held by Aristotle. (Cf. e.g., 1099b29-32, 1102a7-10, 1103b2-7, 1155a23, 1179b32-1180a15, 1180a35-b7.) If, as I have suggested, one's character, constituted at least partly by one's virtues, is at least part of what makes one who one is, then the polis is (partly) responsible for its citizens being who they are.
Of course the polis is not a person. To say that the polis is responsible for a person's virtues and character is to say that the responsibility is shared by his fellow citizens who, with him, constitute the polis. Each of this person's fellow citizens is (in a small degree) responsible for his virtues, and thus (to a similar degree) for his being who he is. If so, then each citizen is a procreator of his fellow citizens, and this will lead him to exhibit (a suitably weak form of) love towards them. Civic friendship, it turns out, can also be understood as derivative from the relation between a procreator and his creature.
19. And they do not -- barring the possibility that the corrupted friend has become another person (see note 22) -- cease to have been one another's procreators. This may explain one's residual goodwill towards an (uncorrupted) ex-friend (1165b31-35).
20. It may be possible to substantiate the claim on its second, stronger reading. While I won't attempt to do so here, it seems possible to defend the view that virtues are not merely characterizing but also individuating features, perhaps in the context of a reading that commits Aristotle to individual forms.
21. A similar implication is possibly carried by 1157a15, which describes friends for utility as persons who 'were never friends of each other, but of what was expedient for them'; one who befriends another for his virtue is, we may suppose, a friend of the other. Cf. also 1164a10.
22. If one were to argue for the stronger version of the claim (see note 20, above), one might want to treat this case as one in which the corrupted friend has become a different person, reading the passage against Aristotle's discussions of still-more-radical transformations that fail to preserve identity at 1159a9ff and 1166a20-24.
23. This may not always be true if these descriptions are given a 'rigid reading': what makes someone useful to me may be his virtues. A non-rigid reading is intended.
24. 1102a3; 1140a27 is seen as supporting the claim that the eudaemonia in question is one's own.
25. This is, if I correctly understand him, Vlastos's view. (Personal communication and unpublished notes.)
26. This reconciliation of Aristotle's theory of friendship with his eudaemonism may help to resolve an ambiguity I have been leaving open. We said that the procreator has the same being as his creature; and this is likely to prompt the reader familiar with Aristotle to ask whether the being they share is species being or individual being, i.e., whether the procreator and his creature are the same in kind or the same in number. Our discussion suggests that the more strongly one reads eudaemonism as a form of psychological egoism, the more one will be motivated to adopt the latter construal. Diogenes Laertius ascribes to Aristotle the saying that friends are 'one soul inhabiting two bodies' (V.20); on such a reading, this would literally be Aristotle's view.
27. It has occurred to me that Frost may have had Aristotle's views of friendship in mind when he wrote this poem. Frost would have shared the exegetical orthodoxy of his time in taking Aristotle to hold that things of a kind have their form in common but are individuated by their matter. Virtues are specified by the form: if brooks had forms, a brook's virtues might include being full of clear, flowing water. Frost seems to be saying that he loves Hyla Brook not for its brookish virtues (which it possesses scantily, if at all) but for the matter that makes it differ from other brooks: its dried mud and dead leaves. What we love is not the form, and the virtues specified by it, but the individuating matter (hule). (The pun on hyla and hule has been thought of by others -- e.g., Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press 1979], 40, 45, 64f -- and it is not extravagant to suppose that it may have occurred to Frost as well.)