Aristotle and the Virtues by Howard J. Curzer

By Howard J. Curzer

Aristotle is the daddy of advantage ethics--a self-discipline that's receiving renewed scholarly consciousness. but Aristotle's debts of the person virtues stay opaque, for many modern commentators of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics have concentrated upon different concerns. by contrast, Howard J. Curzer takes Aristotle's precise description of the person virtues to be critical to his moral concept. operating during the Nicomachean Ethics virtue-by-virtue, explaining and customarily protecting Aristotle's claims, this ebook brings every one of Aristotle's virtues alive. a brand new Aristotle emerges, an Aristotle fascinated with the main points of the person virtues.

Justice and friendship carry particular areas in Aristotle's advantage concept. Many modern discussions position justice and friendship at contrary, maybe even conflicting, poles of a spectrum. Justice looks a great deal a public, neutral, and dispassionate factor, whereas friendship is paradigmatically deepest, partial, and passionate. but Curzer argues that during Aristotle's view they're truly symbiotic. Justice is outlined when it comes to friendship, and sturdy friendship is outlined when it comes to justice.

Curzer is going directly to show how advantage ethics is not just approximately being solid; it's also approximately changing into stable. Aristotle and the Virtues reconstructs Aristotle's account of ethical improvement. sure personality kinds function phases of ethical improvement. convinced catalysts and mechanisms lead from one level to the subsequent. Explaining why a few humans can't make ethical growth specifies the preconditions of ethical improvement. ultimately, Curzer describes Aristotle's quest to figure out the final word target of ethical improvement, happiness.

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Extra resources for Aristotle and the Virtues

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Aristotle offers the right rule for temperance (1119a16–20) and for justice (1134a1–7), but Aristotle does not articulate such a rule for courage, perhaps because it is so obvious. I offer the following suggestion: [Right Rule for Courage] Take risks of physical harm that are worth taking. More precisely, an action risking death, injury, and/or physical pain should be performed whenever the following relationship holds: (value of the potential gains) x (probability of achieving these gains) > (disvalue of the potential losses) x (probability of not-avoiding these losses) Of course, this is quite vague.

Such actions and passions are not actually evidence of courage because they are evidence of shame, liberality, good temper, nemesis, and justice, instead. Now a virtue is a compound disposition (or an integrated package of dispositions) to perceive and believe, feel and desire, choose and act. Virtues differ if they consist of different dispositions. So Aristotle’s claim that, say, courage and temperance are different virtues is the claim that the disposition appropriate for dealing with situations Aristotle’s suggestion that we should not fear poverty, disease, or “in general the things that do not proceed from vice and are not due to a man himself” is a mistake.

Moreover, people with different character traits may share some of the same dispositions and reliably perform some of the same acts or have some of the same feelings. But a single action or passion can provide evidence of a character trait. So a more precise statement of Aristotle’s claim is that appropriate fear or lack of fear is not necessarily evidence of courage or cowardice. Why not? Aristotle argues here that, even though people fear disgrace, disgrace is not an object in the sphere of courage because it is an object in the sphere of a different virtue, instead, namely the learner’s virtue of shame.

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