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Anscombe, G. E. M., , . Thought and Action in Aristotle: What is ‘Practical Truth’?
1981, in Collected Philosophical Papers, Volume One: From Parmenides to Wittgenstein. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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Added by: Anne-Marie McCallion, Contributed by:

Introduction: Is Aristotle inconsistent in the different things he says about προαιρεσις‚ mostly translated “choice”, in the different parts of the Ethics? The following seems to be a striking inconsistency. In Book III (113a 4) he says that what is “decided by deliberation” is chosen, but he also often insists that the uncontrolled man, the άκρατης, does not choose to do what he does; that is to say, what he does in doing the kind of thing that he disapproves of, is not what Aristotle will call exer-cising choice; the uncontrolled man does not act from choice, έκ προαιρεσεως, or choosing, προαιρουμενος. However, in Book VI (1142b 18) he mentions the possibility of a calculating uncontrolled man who will get what he arrived at by calculation, έκ τουλογισμου ΤΕΥΞΕΤΑΙ, and so will have deliberated correctly: òρθως έσται βεβουλευμενος . Thus we have the three theses: (a) choice is what is determined by deliberation; (b) what the uncontrolled man does qua uncontrolled, he does not choose to do; (c) the uncontrolled man, even when acting against his convictions, does on occasion determine what to do by deliberation.

Comment: This text offers an in depth analysis of Aristotle’s account of choice and practical reasoning. This text would be suitable for advanced courses on Aristotle’s ethics or virtue ethics more broadly. It requires a good quantity of knowledge on Aristotle’s philosophy in order to be appropriately accessible and as such is recommended for postgraduate or advanced undergraduate students.

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Athanassoulis, Nafsika, , . Virtue Ethics
2004, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Introduction: Virtue ethics is a broad term for theories that emphasize the role of character and virtue in moral philosophy rather than either doing one’s duty or acting in order to bring about good consequences. A virtue ethicist is likely to give you this kind of moral advice: “Act as a virtuous person would act in your situation.” Most virtue ethics theories take their inspiration from Aristotle who declared that a virtuous person is someone who has ideal character traits. These traits derive from natural internal tendencies, but need to be nurtured; however, once established, they will become stable. For example, a virtuous person is someone who is kind across many situations over a lifetime because that is her character and not because she wants to maximize utility or gain favors or simply do her duty. Unlike deontological and consequentialist theories, theories of virtue ethics do not aim primarily to identify universal principles that can be applied in any moral situation. And virtue ethics theories deal with wider questions—“How should I live?” and “What is the good life?” and “What are proper family and social values?”

Comment: A good preliminary introduction to the concept of virtue ethics, including a useful taxonomy of different types of virtue ethics including care ethics and eudaimonism as distinguished from agent-based approaches, information which is occasionally omitted from other sources. It also provides some historical background on the modern development of virtue ethics. It would be valuable as a starting point for examining various issues in virtue ethics, and any of the sections could be assigned individually for an introduction to specific topics.

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