totle, I imagine, it would be of paramount importance not to respond in ways that would send those capable of human decency the message that wrong conduct is acceptable. That is a recipe for breeding more and more individuals of whom it will be true that their chances were diminished. For there is less chance for anyone to become virtuous once standards are corrupted.

The position is uncompromising but not unfeeling. Aristotle cannot have pity for those of ruined character, if pity excludes condemnation of them for what they are and what they do. And this, I think, applies to those who seem to have been lost from the start as well as to those who seem to have had a chance. But, in either case, Aristotle calls these irredeemable human beings athlioi ('miserable', 'wretched'), and that is a term of lamentation.


Notes
1.
This is the nucleus of the position developed on Aristotle's behalf by Irwin [2] and [7] 340-44. For apt criticism, see Nussbaum [2] 283 ff. It should be stressed (since from Irwin's treatment one would not guess it) that Aristotle does not possess a term meaning 'responsible agent' that is narrower in extension than the term 'voluntary agent'.
2.
Nussbaum (see last note) rightly emphasises the continuity.
3.
Cf. Rhet. 1368 a 7-9: 'whenever you want to praise anyone, think what you would urge people to do; and when you want to urge the doing of anything, think what you would praise a man for having done'.
4.
Bonitz mentions only one scientific context in which the terms 'voluntary' etc. occur ( Movement of Animals 703 b 3-9).
5.
And in this respect Aristotle's ethics emerges from his psychology and metaphysics. For a close and comprehensive study of those connections, see Irwin [7], Chapters 10-16, especially the nodal subsections 149, 154, 183, 202.
6.
Throughout, I use 'determinism' as synonymous with 'necessitarianism'. Thus it neither entails nor is entailed by the thesis that whatever happens has a cause or explanation. (A cause may not necessitate, and it is conceivable that absolutely inexplicable things should happen of necessity.) See Sorabji [3], Chapters 2, 3 and 14.
7.
In De Interpretatione 9 he argues against what appears to be a form of determinism based on purely logical considerations. But whether this really is a determinist (as distinct from fatalist) theory is doubtful. See below, Section IV.
8.
It is indicative that Aristotle regularly characterises animals as both self-movers and moved by the object of desire. See the discussion by Furley [2].
9.
I have examined this and other aspects of Aristotle's conception of the nature of a thing as its 'inner principle of change and stasis' in Waterlow, esp. Chapters 1 and 2.
10.
This is the most striking difference between Aristotle's and modern treatments of human action, pace Charles, who translates 'hekousion' and cognates by 'intentional' etc. ( Charles [1], 61-62; 256-61). That the concepts are different is clear from the facts (1) that Aristotle regards as hekousia acts done from culpable negligence; (2) that he regards as hekousia all foreseeable consequences of what we do hekontes. ( Ackrill [5], 152, comments on the oddity of (a), but perhaps it is odd only if we expect 'hekousion' to mean or entail 'intentional'.) See Heinaman [1] for a defence of the traditional translation, 'voluntary'. What is in common, so far as I can see, to all the items which Aristotle terms 'hekousia', is that in one way or another the agent says 'Yes' to their being or becoming, whether through affirmation, compliance, or failure to say 'No' (see Section IV of this chapter). Charles [1], 62, suggests that what one brings about knowingly (hence acceptingly) but not intentionally should be regarded as 'intentional in a derived sense' (his emphasis). This artificially coined sense of 'intentional' seems designed to encourage us to translate Aristotle's 'hek

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Ethics with Aristotle
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 Happiness, the Supreme End 3
  • Notes 54
  • Chapter 2 Virtues and Parts of the Soul 57
  • Notes 118
  • Chapter 3 the Voluntary 124
  • Notes 174
  • Chapter 4 Practical Wisdom 179
  • Notes 260
  • Chapter 5 Incontinence 266
  • Notes 307
  • Chapter 6 Pleasure 313
  • Notes 363
  • Chapter 7 Aristotle's Values 366
  • Notes 433
  • Works Cited 439
  • Name Index 445
  • Subject Index 449
  • Index Locorum Aristotelis 453
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