Volume 26, Issue 1, January 2010
Friendship as an Impersonal Value
This paper defends a broadly Aristotelean account of character friendship that maintains that the impersonal value of acquiring a virtuous character is the ultimate basis for our reasons for caring about friends. This view of friendship appears to conflict with the entrenched intuition that viewing our connections to particular friends as merely contingent occasions for the cultivation of virtue is alienating and undesirable. I argue that far from being an alienating feature of character friendships, a focused appreciation of the contingent nature of friendships represents a morally sound attitude of honest self-acceptance. On my account, honest selfacceptance is an impersonal value—an ideal that anyone has a reason to cultivate. Although the ideal is impersonal, its content specifi es that we appreciatively acknowledge the particular contributions that friends make to the development of virtue.