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

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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