The metaphysics of goodness in the ethics of Aristotle

Philosophical Studies 174 (7):1839-1856 (2017)

Authors
Samuel H. Baker
University of South Alabama
Abstract
Kraut and other neo-Aristotelians have argued that there is no such thing as absolute goodness. They admit only good in a kind, e.g. a good sculptor, and good for something, e.g. good for fish. What is the view of Aristotle? Mostly limiting myself to the Nicomachean Ethics, I argue that Aristotle is committed to things being absolutely good and also to a metaphysics of absolute goodness where there is a maximally best good that is the cause of the goodness of all other things in virtue of being their end. I begin by suggesting that the notion of good as an end, which is present in the first lines of the NE, is not obviously accounted for by good in a kind or good for something. I then give evidence that good in a kind and good for something can explain neither certain distinctions drawn between virtues nor the determinacy ascribed to what is good “in itself.” I argue contra Gotthelf that because several important arguments in the Nicomachean Ethics rely on comparative judgments of absolute value—e.g. “Man is the best of all animals”—Aristotle is committed to the existence of both absolute goodness and an absolutely best being. I focus on one passage, Aristotle’s division of goods in NE I 12, which presupposes this metaphysical picture.
Keywords Absolute Goodness  Aristotle
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11098-016-0824-y
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Normativity.J. J. Thomson - 2010 - Analysis 70 (4):713-715.
Natural Goodness.Philippa Foot & Peter Geach - 2001 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):621-631.
Good-for-Nothings.Susan Wolf - 2010 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 85 (2):47-64.
Principia Ethica.Evander Bradley McGilvary - 1904 - Philosophical Review 13 (3):351.
The Right and the Good.W. D. Ross & H. W. B. Joseph - 1933 - Journal of Philosophy 30 (19):517-527.

View all 27 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Plato V. Aristotle: Is the Form of the Good Relevant to Ethics?David Joseph Yount - 1998 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
Absolute Goodness: In Defence of the Useless and Immoral.Michael Campbell - 2015 - Journal of Value Inquiry 49 (1-2):95-112.
Order and the Determinate.Christopher V. Mirus - 2012 - Review of Metaphysics 65 (3):499-523.
On Some Ways in Which A Thing Can Be Good.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (2):96.
Aristotle’s Dilemma.A. F. Mackay - 2005 - The Journal of Ethics 9 (3-4):533 - 549.
Aristotle's Theory of Friendship.Michael Pakaluk - 1988 - Dissertation, Harvard University
Being and the Good: Maimonides on Ontological Beauty.Diana Lobel - 2011 - Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 19 (1):1-45.
Reasons as the Unity Among the Varieties of Goodness.Richard Rowland - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2):200-227.
Geach on `Good'.Charles R. Pigden - 1990 - Philosophical Quarterly 40 (159):129-154.
Reasons as the Unity Among the Varieties of Goodness.Richard Rowland - 2015 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3):n/a-n/a.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-12-08

Total views
359 ( #16,697 of 2,285,769 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
70 ( #10,951 of 2,285,769 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature