David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle begins his investigation by exploring the nature of the end of all action. In the very first sentence of the work he says: "Every art and every enquiry and similarly every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim" (1094al-3). It is easy, says Aristotle, to find verbal agreement between people regarding that good because they all consider it to be happiness (eudaimonia). Aristotle says: " Let us resume our inquiry and state in view of the fact that all knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good, what it is that we say that Political Science aims at and what is the highest of all good achievable by action. Verbally, there is very general ageement; for both the general run of men and people of superior refinement say that it is happiness, arrd identify living well and doing well with being happy" (1095a13-19). But there is no agreement between people with regard to what the good is. Some think it is pleasure, others wealth, others honour and so on, for each what happens to be most desirable to them. As is well known Aristotle's general method of approach to a new subject relies on the endoxrg namely the respected opinions of society. But in this case, as he informs us, there is much and radical disagreement on the accepted even the respected positions within society on the subject of what eudaimonia is. For this reason, far from finding the truth in the respected opinions of society, Aristotle cannot use them even as his starting point. Thus we'find him turning to argument, a metaphysical one at that, in order to be assisted in his endeavour to determine the nature of the good at which human action aims. This is the well known function (ergon) argument. My concern in the present article is to study the steps of this.
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