Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: Vol. 65, No. 2, September 2002. (Philosophical Abstracts)

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research: Vol. 65, No. 2, September 2002. (Philosophical Abstracts)

Article excerpt

Deeply Contingent A Priori Knowledge, JOHN HAWTHORNE

Eudaimonia, External Results, and Choosing Virtuous Actions for Themselves, JENNIFER WHITING

Aristotle's requirement that virtuous actions be chosen for themselves is typically interpreted, in Kantian terms, as taking virtuous action to have intrinsic rather than consequentialist value. This raises problems about how to reconcile Aristotle's requirement with (a) the fact that virtuous actions typically aim at ends beyond themselves (usually benefits to others); and (b) Aristotle's apparent requirement that everything (including virtuous action) be chosen for the sake of eudaimonia. The author offers an alternative interpretation, based on Aristotle's account of loving a friend for himself, according to which choosing a virtuous action for itself involves choosing it on account of those features of it that make it the kind of action it is, where these features include its intended consequences (such as the benefits it seeks to provide to others). The author then suggests that Aristotle may take these consequences (including benefits to others) as contributing (and contributing noninstrumentally) to the agent's own eudaimonia, and that there is no conflict here with Aristotle's view that eudaimonia is an activity of the soul. For just as a person's activity of teaching is actualized in students (provided they learn), so too a person's virtuous activity can be actualized in its beneficiaries. If this is right, then Aristotle's view is far from the Stoic (and proto-Kantian) view often attributed to him. …

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