What is the good life? Posing this question today would likely elicit very different answers. Some might say that the good life means doing good—improving one’s community and the lives of others. Others might respond that it means doing well—cultivating one’s own abilities in a meaningful way. But for Aristotle these two distinct ideas—doing good and doing well—were one and the same and could be realized in a single life. In Confronting Aristotle’s Ethics, Eugene Garver examines how we can draw (...) this conclusion from Aristotle's works, while also studying how this conception of the good life relates to contemporary ideas ofmorality. The key to Aristotle’s views on ethics, argues Garver, lies in the Metaphysics or, more specifically, in his thoughts on activities, actions, and capacities . For Aristotle, Garver shows, it is only possible to be truly active when acting for the common good, and it is only possible to be truly happy when active to the extent of one’s own powers. But does this mean we should aspire to Aristotle’s impossibly demanding vision of the good life? In a word, no. Garver stresses the enormous gap between life in Aristotle’s time and ours. As a result, this book will be a welcome rumination on not only Aristotle, but the relationship between the individual and society in everyday life. (shrink)
At Treatise 581ff., Hume seems to ground moral distinctions in therational deliberations of the observer, thereby making sentiment expendable.Is Hume then an example of an early modern ethicist, for whom moral distinctions are derived from reason alone? I argue that Hume's use of strategiesfrom ancient ethics can help explain how reason remains subordinate to sentiment.For if to take up the point of view of the judicious spectator we musthave the right constellation of sentiments and passions, then moral distinctions are (...) only derivatively based onreason. (shrink)
At Treatise 581ff., Hume seems to ground moral distinctions in therational deliberations of the observer, thereby making sentiment expendable.Is Hume then an example of an early modern ethicist, for whom moral distinctions are derived from reason alone? I argue that Hume's use of strategiesfrom ancient ethics can help explain how reason remains subordinate to sentiment.For if to take up the point of view of the judicious spectator we musthave the right constellation of sentiments and passions , then moral distinctions (...) are only derivatively based onreason. (shrink)
The four principles approach to biomedical ethics (4PBE) has, since the 1970s, been increasingly developed as a universal bioethics method. Despite its wide acceptance and popularity, the 4PBE has received many challenges to its cross-cultural plausibility. This paper first specifies the principles and characteristics of ancient Chinese medical ethics (ACME), then makes a comparison between ACME and the 4PBE with a view to testing out the 4PBE's cross-cultural plausibility when applied to one particular but very extensive and prominent cultural (...) context. The result shows that the concepts of respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice are clearly identifiable in ACME. Yet, being influenced by certain socio-cultural factors, those applying the 4PBE in Chinese society may tend to adopt a "beneficence-oriented", rather than an "autonomy-oriented" approach, which, in general, is dissimilar to the practice of contemporary Western bioethics, where "autonomy often triumphs". (shrink)
Drawing on a small sample of writings from distinguished philosophers and poets living in the Middle East in the period from the eighth to the first century BCE, it is shown that a variety of business practices provided familiar examples of how people ought to act and live, morally speaking, to enjoy the best sort of life and to be the best sort of person. The writings reveal that we share a common heritage and humanity with people living 20 to (...) 28 hundred years ago, and that some of the observations are as important and useful today as they were when they were originally made. (shrink)
Examines prudential and moral reasoning in ancient and modern ethics. Ancient ethical theories' task of articulating the agent's overall goal; Structural differences between ancient eudaemonist theories and modern theories; Virtue as a complex intellectual kind of understanding.
This fourth Companion to Ancient Thought is devoted to ancient ethics. The chapters range over the ethical theories of all the major philosophers and schools from the earliest times to the work of the Hellenistic philosophers. There is a substantial introduction which considers the question of what is distinctive about ancient ethics, and an extensive bibliography. This collection provides a sophisticated and accessible introduction to the moral theories of the ancient world.
Virtue ethics has been charged with being unable to provide solutions to practical moral issues. In response, the defenders of virtue ethics argue that normative virtue ethics exists. The debate is significant on its own, yet both sides of the controversy approach the issue from the assumption that moral philosophy has to tell us what we should do. In this essay, I would like to examine the question regarding the practicality of virtue ethics in a different way. Virtue ethics is (...) an ancient approach shared by both ancient Greek philosophers and classic Chinese Confucians, and indeed, ancient Greeks call ethics practical science. How, then, do the ancients themselves view the issue of practicality? This essay shows that there is a notion of practicality which is prominent in both ancient Greek and ancient Chinese virtue ethics but is neglected in todayâs ethics. According to this notion, ethics is to transform oneâs life. The essay also raises a prospect of the revival of this notion. (shrink)
Originally published in 1991, this book focuses on the concept of virtue, and in particular on the virtue of wisdom or knowledge, as it is found in the epic poems of Homer, some tragedies of Sophocles, selected writings of Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers. The key questions discussed are the nature of the virtues, their relation to each other, and the relation between the virtues and happiness or well-being. This book provides the background and interpretative framework to (...) make classical works on Ethics, such as Plato’s _Republic_ and Aristotle’s _Nicomachean Ethics_, accessible to readers with no training in the classics. (shrink)
For much of the twentieth century it was common to contrast the characteristic forms and preoccupations of modern ethical theory with those of the ancient world. However, the last few decades have seen a growing recognition that contemporary moral philosophy now has much in common with its ancient incarnation, in areas as diverse as virtue ethics and ethical epistemology. Christopher Gill has assembled an international team to conduct a fascinating exploration of the relationship between the two fields, exploring (...) key issues in ancient ethics in a way that highlights their conceptual significance for the study of ethics more generally. Virtue, Norms, and Objectivity will be as interesting and relevant to modern moral philosophers, therefore, as it will be to specialists in ancient thought. (shrink)
What follows is a dialogue, in the Platonic sense, concerning the justifications for "business ethics" as a vehicle for asking questions about the values of modern business organisations. The protagonists are the authors, Gordon Pearson – a pragmatist and sceptic where business ethics is concerned – and Martin Parker – a sociologist and idealist who wishes to be able to ask ethical questions of business. By the end of the dialogue we come to no agreement on the necessity or justification (...) for business ethics, but on the way discuss the uses of philosophy, the meanings of integrity and trust, McDonald''s, a hypothetical torture manufacturer and various other matters. (shrink)
One challenge of societies in the 21st century is the conflict of norms between different cultures. In Ancient Greece, too, such conflicts arose, and great thinkers offered great solutions. In this contribution we will argue for the following: - Ancient ethical theories were not only individual ethical theories but also social ethical theories (II). - The ancient methods of scientific examinations are useful not only in classical sciences but also in ethics (III). - Accepting the result of (...) (III) yields highly interesting theoretical results about conflicts of norms between different cultures (IV). (shrink)
Paper edition ($18.95) not seen. The essays in this collection have been selected from a much larger set of papers on Aristotle's ethics, presented before the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy during the past decade.
This ground-breaking study conveys the thrill and moral power of the ancient Roman story-world and its ancestral tales of bloody heroism. Its account of 'exemplary ethics' explores how and what Romans learnt from these moral exempla, arguing that they disseminated widely not only core values such as courage and loyalty, but also key ethical debates and controversies which are still relevant for us today. Exemplary ethics encouraged controversial thinking, creative imitation, and a critical perspective on moral issues, and it (...) plays an important role in Western philosophical thought. The model of exemplary ethics developed here is based on a comprehensive survey of Latin literature, and its innovative approach also synthesizes methodologies from disciplines such as contemporary philosophy, educational theory, and cultural memory studies. It offers a new and robust framework for the study of Roman exempla that will also be valuable for the study of moral exempla in other settings. (shrink)
In this article, I describe an approach to teaching ancient practical ethics that encourages learners to engage actively with the ideas under consideration. Students are encouraged to apply a range of practical exercises to their own lives and to reflect both independently and in collaboration with others on how the experience impacts their understanding of the theories upon which such exercises are built. I describe how such an approach is both in keeping with the methods advocated by the philosophers (...) of ancient Greece and Rome, and also well supported by a wide range of contemporary educational research. I suggest that such active learning strategies encourage students towards a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the philosophical theories under consideration. Practical recommendations for incorporating such an approach into the teaching of applied philosophy are given. I finish by considering the impact such an approach may have on student motivation. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive guide and only substantial undergraduate level introduction to ancient Greek and Roman ethics. It covers the ethical theories and positions of all the major philosophers and schools from the earliest times to the Hellenistic philosophers, analyzing their main arguments and assessing their legacy. This book maps the foundations of this key area, which is crucial knowledge across the disciplines and essential for a wide range of readers.
The principle of non-injury toward all living beings in India was originally a rule restraining human interaction with the natural environment. I compare two discourses on the relationship between humans and the natural environment in ancient India: the discourse of the priestly sacrificial cult and the discourse of the renunciants. In the sacrificial cult, all living beings were conceptualized as food. The renunciants opposed this conception and favored the ethics of non-injury toward all beings, which meant that no living (...) being should be food for another. The first represented an ethics modeled on the power that the eater has over the eaten while the second attempted to overturn this food chain ethics. The ethics of non-injury ascribed ultimate value to every individual living being. As a critique of the individualistic ethics of noninjury, a holistic ethics was developed that prescribed the unselfish performance of one’s duties for the sake of the functioning of the natural system. Vegetarianismbecame a popular adaptation of the ethics of non-injury. These dramatic changes in ethics in ancient India are suggestive for the possibility of dramatic changes in environmental ethics today. (shrink)
Ethics in Thucydides uses the historian's account of the resolution at Corcyra as the basis for determining a moral or ethical perspective in Thucydides'History. Various scenes, speeches, and narrative descriptions are analyzed in relation to ethical vocabulary, their conformity to an ethical perspective, and the way in which they promote an ethical outcome. Ethics in Thucydides is ground-breaking because up to this point, scholars have not persuasively argued that ethics played a role in History. Williams' work is an extensive analysis (...) which also considers Thucydides in relation to his predecessors and contemporaries. (shrink)
Ethical issues are of foremost importance in modern bio-medical science. Ethical guidelines and socio-cultural public awareness exist for modern samples, whereas for ancient mummy studies both are de facto lacking. This is particularly striking considering the fact that examinations are done without informed consent or that the investigations are invasive due to technological aspects and that it affects personality traits. The aim of this study is to show the pro and contra arguments of ancient mummy research from an (...) ethical point of view with a particular focus on the various stakeholders involved in this research. Relevant stakeholders in addition to the examined individual are, for example, a particular researcher, and the science community in general, likely descendents of the mummy or any future generation. Our broad discussion of the moral dilemma of mummy research should help to extract relevant decision-making criteria for any such study in future. We specifically do not make any recommendations about how to rate these decision-factors, since this is highly dependent on temporal and cultural affiliations of the involved researcher. The sustainability of modern mummy research is dependent on ethical orientation, which can only be given and eventually settled in an interdisciplinary approach such as the one we attempt to present here. (shrink)
Pearson points to the radical questioning of the traditional Greek ethic, which is found in the classical dramatic literature of fifth century Athens, as an example of popular ethics. The philosophic discussion of the Socratic-Platonic tradition supplanted this popular ethics in the fourth century. Many of the problems discussed in the philosophic literature were taken over as developed and articulated by the classical dramatists. Thus, three ethical traditions are described and related in this book: the "traditional" ethics coming from Homer, (...) Hesiod, and Solon, the "popular" ethics of the classical dramatists, and the technical "philosophic" ethics of Plato. The main effort of the book is to discuss the popular ethics as related to both the traditional and philosophic ethics The student of the Platonic dialogues will find the book of great value in identifying the various positions represented by the dramatis personae of the dialogues.--W. G. E. (shrink)
This work is a critical examination of Maat, the moral ideal in ancient Egypt. It seeks to present Maat in the language of modern moral discourse while at the same time preserving and building on its distinctiveness as a moral ideal capable of inspiring and maintaining ethical philosophic reflection. The effort here is one of both interpretation and transmission of an ethical tradition, a project in which tradition is seen not simply as a precondition and process in which one (...) comes, but also as an ongoing product of one's efforts to understand it. Locating himself within the tradition, the author seeks to test the conceptual elasticity of its major categories and contentions and to establish its capacity for critical moral discourse. (shrink)
Leading figures in ancient philosophy present nineteen original papers on three key themes in the work of Richard Sorabji. The papers dealing with Metaphysics range from Democritus to Numenius on basic questions about the structure and nature of reality: necessitation, properties, and time. The section on Soul includes one paper on the individuation of souls in Plato and five papers on Aristotle's and Aristotelian theories of cognition, with a special emphasis on perception. The section devoted to Ethics concentrates upon (...) Stoicism and the complex views the Stoics held on such topics as motivation, akrasia, oikeitsis, and the emotions. It also includes one paper on the influence of Greek ethics in Modern Philosophy. The volume also contains a fascinating "intellectual autobiography" by Sorabji himself, and a full Bibliography of his works. (shrink)
What I propose to do in this short paper is to outline two different approaches to needs in Greek philosophy. The first is the reasonably familiar approach used by Aristotle, and, in some moods, by Plato; the second is a rather less well-known approach which can with some justice be associated with Socrates, and/or Plato when he is not in an Aristotelian mood —and also the Stoics, who seem to have picked up some distinctly Socratic ways of thinking. The Aristotelian (...) line, if not necessarily familiar as Aristotle’s, will be familiar just insofar as it gives some degree of that recognition to needs that most moderns would suppose the idea should be given. What I am calling the Socratic line, by contrast, appears to leave no room for the idea of needs at all. It is this second, ‘Socratic’, approach that primarily interests me, not least because it is non-standard. (shrink)
In this incisive study Sarah Broadie gives an argued account of the main topics of Aristotle's ethics: eudaimonia, virtue, voluntary agency, practical reason, akrasia, pleasure, and the ethical status of theoria. She explores the sense of "eudaimonia," probes Aristotle's division of the soul and its virtues, and traces the ambiguities in "voluntary." Fresh light is shed on his comparison of practical wisdom with other kinds of knowledge, and a realistic account is developed of Aristototelian deliberation. The concept of pleasure as (...) value-judgment is expounded, and the problem of akrasia is argued to be less of a problem to Aristotle than to his modern interpreters. Showing that the theoretic ideal of Nicomachean Ethics X is in step with the earlier emphasis on practice, as well as with the doctrine of the Eudemian Ethics, this work makes a major contribution towards the understanding of Aristotle's ethics. (shrink)
The political morality that Plato and Aristotle supported was governed by various anthropological and social determinants, which means that they focused on man understood as a citizen and interpreted through the dialectic as well as through the prospects of the city’s happiness, since for both of them man was a social animal. The political ethics of Plato and Aristotle does not endanger the political community with political bankruptcy. This political morality does not start from intransigent principles to reach a compromise (...) that has already been surpassed by the previous negative dynamics. The Byzantine political morality oscillates between the individual and the totality. It is not governed by individualism but rather by communitarianism, which entails that it confirms the dynamics of unity within the city. The Byzantine political morals is imbued with an anticipation of the political crisis, it seeks to identify any negative developments and strives to avoid the political marginalization of the citizens who are likely to rebel against any autocratic government. The Byzantine political morality is, thus, not an idle and selfish political introversion, concerned merely with political crises, conflict scenarios and conspiracy theories, as it strives to come up with various solutions that should guarantee political balance. (shrink)
This review of John Cooper's fine collection of essays Reason and Emotion focuses mainly on his paper ‘Contemplation and Happiness: A Reconsideration.’ In this article, Cooper alters his view -- found in his book Reason and Human Good in Aristotle - on the relation between the accounts of happiness in Books I and X of the Nicomachean Ethics. He now aims for an interpretation which avoids inconsistency between the accounts of happiness in Books I and X, an interpretation which does (...) not see Book X as allowing that the morally vicious thinker can be happy. I argue that Cooper does not succeed. For, on the one hand, he has Book I emphasise that all kinds of virtuous activity, and especially intellectual activity, are necessary for happiness. But in explaining how, for Aristotle, the unintellectual but morally virtuous kind of happy life can be happy, he asserts that Book X affirms that activity with a kinship to divine activity - for example, morally virtuous behavior on its own -- is sufficient for happiness. Hence, his interpretation has Book I assert and Book X deny that all kinds of virtuous behavior, and especially intellectual activity, are necessary for happiness. Also, by making activity with a kinship to divine activity sufficient for happiness in Book X, he commits Aristotle to happiness for the morally vicious thinker, since human intellectual activity on its own has a greater kinship to divine activity than morally virtuous action on its own. (shrink)