Authors
Noell Birondo
University of Texas at El Paso
Abstract
Winner of the American Philosophical Association’s 2019 Essay Prize in Latin American Thought | Western imperialism has received many different types of moral-political justifications, but one of the most historically influential justifications appeals to an allegedly universal form of human nature. In the early modern period this traditional conception of human nature—based on a Western archetype, e.g. Spanish, Dutch, British, French, German—opens up a logical space for considering the inhabitants of previously unknown lands as having a ‘less-than-human’ nature. This appeal to human nature originally found its inspiration in the philosophy of Aristotle, whose ethical thought pervaded the work of European philosophers at the outset of the early modern period and the modern age of empire. Indeed some Spanish writers—most famously, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (b. 1494)—explicitly appealed to Aristotle’s moral-political philosophy in order to justify the conquest of the Americas in the early sixteenth century, for instance to justify war against the Aztecs and other indigenous peoples. At the time of European arrival, the Aztec civilization was easily the greatest in Mesoamerica—and yet the Europeans generally considered the Aztec people to be ‘barbaric,’ i.e. less-than-fully-human.
Keywords Aristotle  Bartolomé de Las Casas  Virtue Ethics  Mestizaje  Imperialism  Aztecs  Epistemic Injustice  Relativism
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White Ignorance.Charles Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.

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Aristotle and Expertise: Ideas on the Skillfulness of Virtue.Noell Birondo - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (2):599-609.

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