The ethics of Aristotle , and virtue ethics in general, have enjoyed a resurgence of interest over the past few decades. Aristotelian themes, with such issues as the importance of friendship and emotions in a good life, the role of moral perception in wise choice, the nature of happiness and its constitution, moral education and habituation, are finding an important place in contemporary moral debates. Taken together, the essays in this volume provide a close analysis of central arguments in Aristotle's (...) Nicomachean Ethics and show the enduring interest of the questions Aristotle raises. (shrink)
Scotus believes it is clear that the pursuit of happiness is not psychologically supreme. If the will necessarily pursued happiness, it follows that whenever both x and y are open, x rather than y promotes happiness. But Scotus replies that sometimes we are aware that x rather than y promotes happiness, but we can simply choose to pursue neither x nor y. If we suspend further action, we choose to be indifferent toward happiness. Scotus agrees with Anselm's argument from responsibility. (...) In his view, the affection for justice is nobler than the affection for advantage, because it causes us to will something that is not directed toward ourselves. It manifests freedom in the will, because an agent who is capable of choosing the just rather than the advantageous is not necessitated by nature to pursue only his own advantage. (shrink)
Augustine defends three claims about the passions: (1) The Stoic position differs only verbally from the Platonic-Aristotelian position. (2) The Stoic positionis wrong and the Platonic-Aristotelian position is right. (3) The will is engaged in the different passions; indeed the different passions are different expressionsof the will. The first two claims, properly understood, are defensible. But the most plausible versions of them give us good reason to doubt the third claim.
One of the many illuminating aspects of Bart Schultz's book is the recurrent theme of Sidgwick's Socratic inspiration. Some of Sidgwick's contemporaries at Cambridge were among those who gave new life to the study of Socrates and Plato in England. The Cambridge Apostles were self-consciously devoted both to Socratic ideals of friendship and to the Socratic aim of impartial free inquiry on fundamental questions.
Whewell and ShaftesburyIn contemporary moral philosophy ‘moral realism’ refers to a position in the metaphysics of morality that is analogous to realism about ordinary objects, and to scientific realism about theoretical entities. It is a realist doctrine in contrast to non-cognitivism, constructivism, fictionalism, and nihilism about moral judgments and moral properties. But while these particular contrasts are characteristic of contemporary philosophy, realism itself is much older. Ross, Prichard, and Sidgwick, for instance, hold realist views in the metaphysics of morals, though (...) they do not describe them in this way.As far as I know, the first person to use ‘moral realism’ as a description of a distinct tradition in modern moral philosophy is Whewell. He speaks of Shaftesbury as “the origin of a new school of real moralists” , who maintained some of the views of “the ancient school of Cudworth and Clarke”. Balguy is a member of this “old realist school” who defe .. (shrink)
Abstract Six apparent features of Kant's conception of autonomy appear to differentiate it sharply from anything that we can find in an Aristotelian conception of will and practical reason. (1) Autonomy requires a role for practical reason independent of its instrumental role in relation to non-rational desires. (2) This role belongs to the rational will. (3) This role consists in the rational will's being guided by its own law. (4) This guidance by the law of the will itself requires acts (...) of legislation?the making of laws?for oneself. (5) These acts of legislation constitute the law as one's own law, as moral constructivists hold. (6) Kant marks this character of the rational will by using ?autonomy? and cognates. These six apparent features, however, do not mark any discontinuity between Kant and an Aristotelian conception. The first three apparent features are genuinely Kantian, but are not aspects of discontinuity, whereas the last three mark aspects of discontinuity, but are not genuinely Kantian. (shrink)
Etymology might encourage us to begin a discussion of Aristotle on philanthropy with a discussion of philanthropia ; and it is instructive to see why this is not quite the right place to look. The Greek term initially refers to a generalized attitude of kindness and consideration for a human being. The gods accuse Prometheus of being a ‘human-lover’, intending the term in an unfavorable sense, when he confers on human beings the benefits that should have been confined to the (...) gods. Aristotle uses the abstract noun only once, to refer to sympathetic fellow-feeling ; and he mentions our feeling of kinship with other human beings to explain our approval of the philanthropos person. Philanthropia is the attitude of a kind and considerate person, even if she lacks material resources, and it can be displayed without the transfer of material resources. (shrink)
Both Plato and Aristotle have something to say about admiration. But in order to know where to look, and in order to appreciate the force of their remarks, we need to sketch a little of the ethical background that they presuppose. I begin, therefore, with ancient Greek ethics in the wider sense, and discuss the treatment of admiration and related attitudes by Homer, Herodotus, and other pre-Platonic sources. Then I turn to the views of Plato, Adam Smith, Aristotle and Cicero. (...) This order of discussion allows us to see why admiration is both morally significant and, in some respects, morally unreliable. (shrink)
Eighteenth-century disputes in moral theory seem to offer an opportunity to scepticism about moral theory and about morality. Twentieth-century theorists have tried to forestall a sceptical argument from disagreement in moral theory to doubts about morality, by appeal to a division between first-order and second-order questions. This division, however, does not answer the sceptical argument. A better reply appears in Butler's treatment of disagreement through his strategies of consensus and comprehension. These strategies are illustrated by his discussion of utilitarianism and (...) of the relation between conscience and self-love. (shrink)
Augustine is notorious for his claim that the so-called virtues of pagans are not genuine virtues at all. Bayle refers to this claim when he describes the sort of virtue that one ought to be willing to attribute to atheists.
Focuses on the traditional view of Greek ethics. Response to articles by Julia Annas and Nicholas White about the interpretation of Greek ethics; Plato's concept of happiness based on his book `Republic'; Issues about prudential and moral reasoning.
Students of the history of ethics sometimes find themselves tempted by moderate or extreme versions of an approach that might roughly be called ‘historicist’. This temptation may result from the difficulties of approaching historical texts from a ‘narrowly philosophical’ point of view. We may begin, for instance, by wanting to know what Aristotle has to say about ‘the problems of ethics’, so that we can compare his views with those of Aquinas, Hume, Kant, Sidgwick, and Rawls, and then decide what (...) is true or false in each theorist's position. But this narrowly philosophical attitude soon runs into difficulties, and writers on the history of ethics often warn us against it. (shrink)