Practical and Productive Thinking in Aristotle

Phronesis 63 (2):148-175 (2018)
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Abstract

I argue that on Aristotle’s account practical thinking is thinking whose origin (archē) is a desire that has as its object the very thing that one reasons about how to promote. This feature distinguishes practical from productive reasoning since in the latter the desire that initiates it is not (unless incidentally) a desire for the object that one productively reasons about. The feature has several interesting consequences: (a) there is only a contingent relationship between the desire that one practically reasons about how to satisfy and the action one decides on; (b) practical thinking and action cannot be separated from the agent, whereas productive thinking and production can be outsourced to someone else. The view has consequences also for the distinction between action and production. Finally, I illustrate the usefulness and correctness of my account of practical thinking by using it to shed new light on Aristotle’s claim that the virtuous agent must decide on her virtuous actions ‘for themselves’.

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Jozef Müller
University of California, Riverside

Citations of this work

Aristotle and Expertise: Ideas on the Skillfulness of Virtue.Noell Birondo - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (2):599-609.
Empeiria and Good Habits in Aristotle’s Ethics.Marta Jimenez - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (3):363-389.
Aristotle and the Origins of Evil.Jozef Müller - 2020 - Phronesis: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy 65 (2):179-223.

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References found in this work

Aristotle: ontology and moral reasoning.David Charles - 1986 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 4:19-144.
Eudaimonia, External Results, and Choosing Virtuous Actions for Themselves.Jennifer Whiting - 2002 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 65 (2):270-290.

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