Aristotle’s Non-‘Dialectical’ Methodology in the Nicomachean Ethics

Ancient Philosophy 29 (2):311-335 (2009)
The Nicomachean Ethics is generally thought to be a “dialectical” work, aimed at resolving aporia in a set of endoxa, which it takes as its starting-point. I argue that Aristotle’s aim in the treatise is, rather, to produce definitions of key ethical terms, and that his starting-points are limited to evaluative and discriminative judgments of a certain sort, which are demanded by the nature of the discipline and are not endoxa. I discuss also how the definitions are reached (focusing on the cases of the virtues of character) and the roles that aporiai do play in the process.
Keywords Aristotle  Ethics  Methodology  dialectic  aporia  endoxa  definitions
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DOI 10.5840/ancientphil200929228
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