An Ethics of Recognition: Redressing the Good and the Right


  • Sebastian Purcell SUNY at Cortland



ethics, the good, the right, recognition, Ricoeur, Levinas, Aristotle, Kant


In Oneself as Another, Paul Ricoeur proposes a new ethical theory that integrates Aristotle’s eudaemonist virtue ethical outlook with Immanuel Kant’s deontological ethics. The goal is ambitious, and recent discussions in anglophone philosophy have made its undertaking look to be founded on a confusion. The new argument goes that the ethical justification at work in the Aristotelian and Kantian traditions is of opposed kinds. Attempts to integrate them, as a result, are either incoherent, or, in the best case, simply minor variations on one or another predominant ethical outlook. The essay grants the opposed kinds thesis and argues that despite its apparent impossibility, Ricoeur nevertheless does succeed in integrating two ethical approaches, including their different sources of justification, to produce a novel and thus ethically interesting theory. The essay closes, finally, with a reflection on how this method might be developed one step further to include an insight by Emmanuel Levinas on the look of the Other, and so make for an ethics of recognition.

Author Biography

Sebastian Purcell, SUNY at Cortland

Sebastian Purcell's research centers on ethics and comparative philosophy. He is especially interested in questions of the good, happiness, and social recognition.