Does Aristotle Have a Consistent Account of Vice?

Review of Metaphysics 57 (1):3 - 23 (2003)
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HOW ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF VICE in Aristotle’s ethics? As many commentators have noted, it is by no means obvious that Aristotle’s scattered remarks about vice really add up to a coherent account. In several places Aristotle clearly assigns the leading role in the explanation of vicious action to reason. We see this, for example, in the unequivocal claim that acts expressing intemperance are “in accordance with choice”. This is important, in part because it provides a basis for the distinction between vice and akrasia. Although both the intemperate and the akratic do what they ought not, the intemperate pursue their goal guided by reason and with “little or no appetite”, whereas the akratic act from appetite. What both pursue—and what both ought not pursue—is bodily pleasure. The difference is that the vicious pursue bodily pleasure because they think it is the central component in the good life. Thus, they choose pleasure as a good, indeed as the most important good. The akratic, on the other hand, pursue bodily pleasure as such and do so contrary to their conception of the good.



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Tom Brickhouse
Lynchburg College

Citations of this work

Aristotle on Vice.Jozef Müller - 2015 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 23 (3):459-477.
Curable and Incurable Vice in Aristotle.Eric Solis - forthcoming - Ancient Philosophy.
What Aristotelian Decisions Cannot Be.Jozef Müller - 2016 - Ancient Philosophy 36 (1):173-195.

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