Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (2):131-140 (2020)

Authors
John Hacker-Wright
University of Guelph
Abstract
Neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalists argue that moral norms are natural norms that apply to human beings. A central issue for neo-Aristotelians is to determine what belongs to the good human life; the question is complicated, since we take up a diversity of different lives, many of which seem good, and it seems unclear what the human species-characteristic life really is. The Aristotelian tradition gives some guidance on this question, however, because it describes us as rational animals with intellectual and appetitive powers; the perfection of those powers is what makes us good qua human. This is especially well spelled out in Thomas Aquinas; he takes moral virtues of courage and temperance to be perfections of our sense appetites, a power of going for things presented as good through our senses. These virtues thereby shape our passions, specifically the passions of fear, daring and concupiscent love, which are a result of the sense appetites pursuing what appears as good. This view provides a framework for virtue, which can then be taken as the perfections of distinct powers shared by all human beings, though actualized in a variety of ways. In this article, I will focus on the passion of fear, which I here describe, following Aquinas, as a movement of sense appetite away from evils that are difficult or impossible to avoid. My focus will be on showing that this passion is necessary, irreplaceable by our cognitive powers, and that the underlying sensitive appetites that produce fear must be perfected for any human being to count as good.
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DOI 10.1177/0191453718810928
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