Moral Idiots and Blameless Brutes in Aristotle’s Ethics

Southwest Philosophy Review 38 (1):245-256 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Aristotle maintains that vicious people are blameworthy despite their moral ignorance, since becoming vicious was up to them and whatever is up to us we are able to do or not do. However, one’s upbringing shapes one’s moral character. Together, these claims invite an objection I call the horrible childhood challenge. According to this objection, vicious adults who suffered horrible childhoods through which they were taught to adopt bad ends as though they were good should not be held accountable for their vice. Aristotle’s likely answer to this challenge reveals that, for Aristotle, a minimal degree of rationality is necessary for moral responsibility. I argue that, for Aristotle, a vicious agent is responsible for her vice only if 1) she is rational, which implies 2) she grasps a specific basic principle, thus consenting to become a certain kind of person through action. The thoroughly bad who satisfy both claims are moral idiots; those who do not may be blameless brutes.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,197

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Moral Beliefs and Blameworthiness.Lloyd Fields - 1994 - Philosophy 69 (270):397 - 415.
Aristotle's Ethics and Moral Responsibility.Javier Echeñique - 2012 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Luck in Aristotle's Physics and Ethics.Monte Johnson - 2015 - In Devin Henry & K. Nielson (eds.), Bridging the Gap between Aristotle's Science and Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 254-275.
Configuring the Moral Self: Aristotle and Dewey. [REVIEW]Nicholas O. Pagan - 2008 - Foundations of Science 13 (3-4):239-250.
Aristotle's Ethics: Critical Essays.Nancy Sherman (ed.) - 1998 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
The ethics of Aristotle: the Nicomachean ethics. Aristotle - 1967 - New York [etc.]: Penguin Books. Edited by J. A. K. Thomson & Hugh Tredennick.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-04-28

Downloads
19 (#802,800)

6 months
8 (#368,968)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Audrey Anton
Western Kentucky University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references