This post is a reply to a long conversation with Adam Knott and J. Grayson Lilburne on the existence of constitutive/component means on the Mises Forums. I unfortunately can’t find a link to the original conversation (the search function on the Mises Community fails), so this will probably go over old ground. Anyway, my argument:
There are 2 different ways that an activity can be subordinated to an goal (the end). In the first case, the activity is purely an instrument or means to the end. In the second, the activity is a component or constitutive part of the end. For example, buying a tobacco pipe is just instrumental to the end of smoking a pipe; it is not itself the activity of pipe smoking. On the other hand, lighting the pipe is an integral part of smoking (although that isn’t all that smoking is, of course); one can’t pipe smoke without lighting it. Thus, buying a pipe is just a means to the end, while lighting it is part of the end.
Now, constitutive means are a combination of the two above distinctions; they are both a means to an end, and a component to that end. This is possible, in the case of Aristotelian natural-end ethics, because of the inclusive nature of eudaimonia; it isn’t a dominant end that everything else is a mere means to, nor is it a simple and monistic goal. Rather, eudaimonia is inclusive and pluralistic; it is composed of the various goods (health, wealth, friendship, pleasure, etc.) and virtues (rationality, productivity, pride, justice, benevolence, etc.). Thus, being just, for example, is both a means to the ultimate end of eudaimonia, and an end in and of itself (because part of one’s eudaimonia is being just).
The above is based heavily on the defense of constitutive means presented in Douglas Rasmussen and Douglas Den Uyl’s Norms of Liberty. Roderick Long further argues that seeing virtue (he uses justice as an example) as being a mere external (instrumental) end is praxeologically unstable in “Why Does Justice Have Good Consequences?”.