Authors
Eric Brown
Washington University in St. Louis
Abstract
Aristotle's account of external goods in Nicomachean Ethics I 8-12 is often thought to amend his narrow claim that happiness is virtuous activity. I argue, to the contrary, that on Aristotle's account, external goods are necessary for happiness only because they are necessary for virtuous activity. My case innovates in three main respects: I offer a new map of EN I 8-12; I identify two mechanisms to explain why virtuous activity requires external goods, including a psychological need for external goods; and I show the relevance of Aristotle's distinction between wishing and choosing. On the view I attribute to Aristotle, our capacity to choose virtuously requires, first, that we wish for external goods (because virtue requires the right attitudes of evaluation) and, second, that these wishes are generally fulfilled (because the social consequences and psychological pain of unfulfilled wishes undermine our opportunity to act virtuously and to take pleasure in acting virtuously). I close with discussion of how Aristotelians should defend this approach.
Keywords Aristotle, eudaimonia, happiness, external goods
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Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.1163/22134417-90000085
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References found in this work BETA

The Fragility of Goodness.Martha Nussbaum - 1988 - Journal of Philosophy 85 (7):376-383.
Aristotle on learning to be good.Myles F. Burnyeat - 1980 - In Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics. University of California Press. pp. 69--92.
Naive Action Theory.Michael Thompson - 2008 - In Life and Action. Harvard University Press.
Aristotle on Eudaimonia.J. L. Ackrill - 1975 - Oxford University Press.
Essays on Aristotle's Ethics.Amélie Oksenberg Rorty (ed.) - 1980 - University of California Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Well-Being and Virtue.Dan Haybron - 2007 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 2 (2):1-28.
Contemplative Withdrawal in the Hellenistic Age.Eric Brown - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 137 (1):79-89.

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