Many Greek moralists are eudaemonists; they assume that happiness is the ultimate end of rational human action. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and most of their successors treat this assumption as the basis of their ethical argument. But not all Greek moralists agree; and since the eudaemonist assumption may not seem as obviously correct to us as it seems to many Greek moralists, it is worth considering the views of those Greeks who dissent from it.
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)
Why should Aristotle reject his own criteria for a science to admit this puzzling science of being? Or does he really reject them? Perhaps the science of being is not intended to be a universal science of the type rejected elsewhere. The Metaphysics and the Organon are not concerned with exactly the same questions; and verbal differences may not reflect real or important doctrinal conflicts.
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)
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.
This article attempts to answer certain questions that arise regarding the dialogues as penned by Plato centuries ago. The speaker or the narrator of the text happens to be Socrates, who through various conversations with his apprentices unravels the nuances of the various philosophical dialogues.
Ancient critics often argue that the Stoic moralists really have no substantive disagreement with Aristotle, but simply say the same things in more violently paradoxical terms. One of the Stoics’ most acute critics, the sceptic Carneades, claims that on the whole question about goods and evils, the Stoics and Peripatetics differ about terms, not about the facts. On this view, the apparently extravagant Stoic claims about virtue, happiness, good, and evil, really agree with Aristotle. As Cicero says, when we take (...) a closer look at the Stoic position, it seems much less amazing than it initially seemed. (shrink)
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)
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)
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.
IT HAS OFTEN BEEN SUPPOSED that Aristotle's account of thought and action imposes severe limits on the functions and scope of practical reason; and insofar as Thomas Aquinas accepts Aristotle's account, he seems to be forced into the same restrictive view of practical reason. Practical reason expresses itself primarily in deliberation ; and the virtue that uses practical reason correctly is the deliberative virtue of prudence. Aristotle believes that deliberation is confined to means to ends, while will is focused on (...) ends. Some ends that are assumed on some occasions may on other occasions also count as means to more ultimate ends; but it seems that the most ultimate ends must be taken for granted in any deliberation. Since every deliberation must take for granted some end to which the deliberation finds means, the conclusions of rational deliberation must ultimately be about means to ultimate ends that are not themselves subject to practical reason. (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)
This chapter analyses various theories of natural law. The discussions cover meta-ethical objections to natural law theory; the views of Mills and Hobbes; a holistic and teleological conception of nature; nature and the precepts of natural law; nature and human good; natural sociality and morality; a defence of naturalism; a voluntarist conception of natural law; an objection to and defence of voluntarism; and natural morality without natural law.
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)
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.