Aristotelian and Neo-Aristotelian Ethical and Political Theory

11 November 2020, 12:30 - 14:00

Online Event

"I think the seminars are a real perk of a CRASSH fellowship, and I found them more useful, both in substance and in form, than any other seminars I have attended in Cambridge." Dr Louise Joy (Crausaz Wordsworth Fellow in Lent Term 2020) 

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work in Progress Seminar Series. All welcome but please email to book your place and to request readings.

Dr Tom Angier

My research interests centre on Aristotelian and neo-Aristotelian ethical and political theory. My project while at CRASSH is to develop a view in ethical theory that builds on both Aristotelian virtue ethics and natural law-type thought, but is reducible to neither. It is a view I call ‘natural perfectionism’. The fundamental idea is that there are a raft of perfections or modes of fulfilment that are characteristic of humans, modes that are grounded in and reflective of our species nature. In this way, it renders ethical theory continuous with the study of other species of life, while acknowledging that the human life-form is more complex and hence difficult to analyse than other forms of life. Our life-form is inflected significantly by history and language, unlike the life-form of (e.g.) manatees or rhododendrons. Nonetheless there are valuable discoveries to be made about the human life-form that prescind from these historical and linguistic variations, and which, to some extent, can be seen to underlie them. My project involves detailing a method for deriving human-specific goods or perfections, and investigating how they relate to human happiness or well-being. As with all philosophical projects, it also involves defending that method against criticism, particularly ethical anti-naturalism, evolutionary ethical critique and the ‘transhumanist’ movement. In addition, it covers how human goods relate to and interact with the goods of other species, and to what degree natural perfectionism yields a concrete guide to action.


Dr Tom Angier is a Visiting Fellow and will be at CRASSH in Michaelmas Term 2020.

I earned PhDs at the Universities of Cambridge and Toronto, the latter as part of the ‘Collaborative Programme in Ancient and Mediaeval Philosophy’. I have taught at the Universities of Leeds, Kent and St Andrews in the UK, before taking up a permanent position at the University of Cape Town. I have published many papers in philosophical journals, along with two monographs, most recently Technē in Aristotle’s EthicsCrafting the Moral Life (Continuum 2010). I have published several edited collections: e.g. on Virtue Ethics (Routledge 2018), The History of Evil (Routledge 2018) and The Cambridge Companion to Natural Law Ethics (Cambridge University Press 2019). Besides this, I will be publishing a short introduction to natural law theory with Cambridge University Press in 2021, which is a prelude to my monograph on natural perfectionism. I will be working on the latter while at CRASSH, completing work begun in January 2020 at the Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto.