Aristotle's Ethics by James Urmson

By James Urmson

Aristotle's moral writings are one of the world's maximum, yet are simply misunderstood by way of the green. Professor Urmson, after 50 years of research, offers a transparent account of the most doctrines in an simply intelligible approach and with out residing on issues of often scholarly curiosity.

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Extra resources for Aristotle's Ethics

Example text

Administering justice is a special occupation, not a special character trait. So Aristotle's failure to exhibit justice as an excellence of character is not very important. His account of distributive justice and rectificatory justice are not damaged by this failure, not is his general account of excellence of character, once we see that Aristotle was making an unnecessary mistake in trying to link them together. Moreover, when he ceases to try to connect justice and the doctrine of the mean, he abandons his earlier sophisms.

But in this chapter Aristotle examines the presupposition of the previous chapters. In so doing he is facing the set of problems collectively called the problem of free will. Aristotle is often said to have been unaware of this problem, and it is true that he does not approach it against a background either of theological predestination or of scientific determinism, as is typically the case in later times. But to me it seems obvious that he is concerned with the same basic issues, and achieves the same degree of success, or lack of success, as anyone else.

The need for rectificatory justice may arise with regard to transactions that are intended or those that are contary to intention. In traditional translations these appear as voluntary' and 'involuntary transactions'. As examples of intended transactions he lists buying and selling, loans, deposits, leasing and the like - agreements that two or more parties have chosen to make. Within transactions contrary Particular Excellences of Character 73 to intention he makes a further distinction between those arising through stealth and those arising through force.

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