Aristotle's Ethics - Daniel Bonevac

Aristotle's Ethics - Daniel Bonevac

Aristotles Ethics Ancient Athens Aristotle Aristotle: Goods Instrumental goods: desired for the sake of

something else Intrinsic goods: desired for their own sake Happiness One thing is always desired for its own sake, never for the sake of something else: happiness

Happiness One thing is always desired for its own sake, never for the sake of something else: happiness Happiness (eudaimonia) = living well = flourishing Happiness

One thing is always desired for its own sake, never for the sake of something else: happiness Happiness (eudaimonia) = living well = flourishing What does that require? Prosperity and luck, yes, but more Living well

What is it to live well? Living well What is it to live well? Analogies: A good knife cuts well A good eye sees well A good teacher teaches well

Living well What is it to live well? Analogies: A good knife cuts well A good eye sees well A good teacher teaches well A good person _____s well

Function A things function stems from what is special about it: what distinguishes it from other things Knives cut: sharpness > cutting Eyes see: ability to see > seeing Teachers teach: ability to teach > teaching Our Function What is the

function of a human being? Our Function What is the function of a human being? What is special about people?

Our Function What is the function of a human being? What is special about people? We act according to rational plans

Virtue Our function is rational activity A good person succeeds at rational activity Virtue = excellence A virtuous person excels at rational activity

Two Kinds of Virtue Virtue = rational activity Excellence in rationality: intellectual virtue Excellence in activity: moral virtue Becoming virtuous Intellectual virtue can be taught

Moral virtue cant be It requires developing habits We become good by doing good things Right and wrong An act is right if it is something a virtuous person would tend to do

Circular? Moderns: A virtuous person is one who tends to do the right thing. Circular? Moderns: A virtuous person is one who tends to do the right thing. Aristotle: Thats not enough. A virtuous person

tends to do the right thing as virtuous people do them. A good person consistently does the right thing at the right time, in the right way, and for the right reason. Virtuous people do the right thing for the right reason: because its the right thing to do. Virtue as a Mean

Virtues are means between extremes Virtues constrain desires But we may constrain too little or too much Virtues and Vices Drive Too little Just right Fear

cowardly courageous Pleasure self-indulgent self-controlled Material goods stingy generous Self-esteem vain

high-minded Anger short-tempered gentle Sociability obsequious friendly Boasting boastful truthful

Humor clownish witty Drive for honor ambitious ? Spending grudging magnificent

Too much rash insensitive extravagant small-minded apathetic grouchy self-deprecating boring

unambitious vulgar Virtue as a Mean We must give in to desire in the right circumstances, in the right way, for the right reason, etc. Practical wisdomthe ability to draw the right distinctions and tell right from wrongallows

us to find the mean Theres no rule for doing this You must learn to see what is right Can one be too moral? Its possible to be too generous (extravagant), too courageous (rash), too witty (clownish), etc. Is it possible to be too moral?

Aristotles Theory Too narrow? (False negatives) Right Virtuous

people would tend to do it Too broad? (False positives)

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