Telos: The revival of an aristotelian concept in present day ethics

Inquiry 48 (1):62 – 75 (2005)
Abstract
Genetic engineering is often looked upon with disfavour on the grounds that it involves "tampering with nature". Most philosophers do not take this notion seriously. However, some do. Those who do tend to understand nature in an Aristotelian sense, as the essence or form which is the final end or telos for the sake of which individual organisms live, and which also explains why they are as they are. But is this really a tenable idea? In order to secure its usage in present day ethics, I will first analyze the contexts in which it is applied today, then discuss the notion of telos as it was employed by Aristotle himself, and finally debate its merits and defend it, as far as possible, against common objections.
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