This book presents a novel interpretation of Aristotle's account of how shame instils virtue, and defends its philosophical import. Shame is shown to provide motivational continuity between the actions of the learners and the virtuous dispositions that they will eventually acquire.
Aristotle ’s claim that we become virtuous by doing virtuous actions raises a familiar problem: How can we perform virtuous actions unless we are already virtuous? I reject deflationary accounts of the answer given in _Nicomachean Ethics_ 2.4 and argue instead that proper habituation involves doing virtuous actions with the right motive, i.e. for the sake of the noble, even though learners do not yet have virtuous dispositions. My interpretation confers continuity to habituation and explains in a non-mysterious way how (...) we become virtuous by doing virtuous actions in the right way. (shrink)
The specific role of empeiria in Aristotle’s ethics has received much less attention than its role in his epistemology, despite the fact that Aristotle explicitly stresses the importance of empeiria as a requirement for the receptivity to ethical arguments and as a source for the formation of phronêsis.1 Thus, while empeiria is an integral part of all explanations that scholars give of the Aristotelian account of the acquisition of technê and epistêmê, it is usually not prominent in explanations of the (...) acquisition of phronêsis.2 The abundant mentions of empeiria in Aristotle’s ethical treatises are often eclipsed in the secondary literature... (shrink)
In what ways and how far does virtue shield someone against suffering evils? In other words, how do non-moral evils affect the lives of virtuous people and to what extent can someone endure evils while staying happy? The central purpose of this chapter is to answer these questions by exploring what Aristotle has to say about the effects of evils in human well-being in general and his treatment of extreme misfortunes.
At least since Burnyeat’s “Aristotle on Learning to Be Good,” one of the most popular ways of explaining moral development in Aristotle is by appealing to mechanisms of pleasure and pain. Aristotle himself suggests this kind of explanation when he says that “in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain” (Nicomachean Ethics X.1, 1172a21). However, I argue that, contrary to the dominant view, Aristotle’s view on moral development in the Nicomachean Ethics is not mainly (...) about learning to feel pleasures and pains in relation to the right kinds of objects and activities. I show that given Aristotle’s account of the relationships between pleasure and virtuous actions, on the one hand, and between pleasure and virtuous dispositions, on the other, pleasure can only have a supporting role in our learning to be good, and not a guiding one. (shrink)
In this paper I examine some of the positive epistemic and moral dimensions of anger in Plato’s dialogues. My aim is to show that while Plato is clearly aware that retaliatory anger has negative effects on people’s behavior, the strategy we find in his dialogues is not to eliminate anger altogether; instead, Plato aims to transform or rechannel destructive retaliatory anger into a different, more productive, reformative anger. I argue that this new form of anger plays a crucial positive role (...) in our intellectual and moral development. In relation to our intellectual development, anger is often part of people’s reactions to the Socratic interrogations and it often helps or hinders attempts to acknowledge one’s ignorance and become motivated to learn. For anger to play a positive role in the context of philosophical conversations, Plato suggests its transformation from being an outward-looking and reactive emotion oriented towards retaliation (refutation), into a mostly inward-looking emotion aimed at ones’ own moral and intellectual reform or self-betterment. In relation to our moral progress, anger is strategically linked both to the control of our appetites and to the virtue of courage, so anger is crucial to the psychology of the good citizen. Concretely, anger is needed both for the development of the right opposition to injustice and greed, and for the formation of an adequate sensitivity to justice. (shrink)
In this paper I take up the question about the unity of justice in Aristotle and advocate for a robust relationship between lawfulness and equality, the two senses of justice that Aristotle distinguishes in Nicomachean Ethics V. My strategy is to focus on Aristotle’s indication in NE V 2 that “other-relatedness” is the common element shared by the two justices and turn to Aristotle’s discussion of the notion of self-love in EN IX 8 to explain what that means. I argue (...) that the other-relatedness of justice can be characterized in terms of proper self-love. Concretely, the discussion of self-love makes clear that those who are concerned with the well-being of others in their community over their own material gain—i.e., those who are lawful and not grasping or pleonectic—are able to see that their own self-interest is in harmony with acting in benefit of their community. This shows that there is an intimate link between lacking pleonectic inclinations and being able to act for the sake of the common good—and in general, between lacking pleonectic inclinations and being virtuous in relation to others. (shrink)