Nature and Normativity

Andres Rosler

in Political Authority and Obligation in Aristotle

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780199251506
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602306 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

 Nature and Normativity

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The examination of Aristotle’s conception of nature in his practical works attempts to face some charges, which seem to undermine the normativity of Aristotle’s ethical and political theory and thus the very attempt to attribute a theory of political obligation to him. These charges, which basically come down to numerous variations on the theme of the naturalistic fallacy, derive essentially from a misunderstanding of Aristotle’s handling of the connection between well-being and human nature—especially his discussion of the human function and the theses that human beings are political by nature, that the polis exists by nature, and that the polis is naturally prior to its members. This chapter argues that Aristotle’s ethical and political naturalism is built upon a normatively safe foundation. Whereas Aristotle’s ethical naturalism is examined against the background of Kantian morality, his political naturalism is discussed vis-à-vis Hobbesian contractarianism.

Keywords: contractarianism; happiness; Hobbes; human nature; Kant; naturalism; naturalistic fallacy; nature; normativity; practical reason; priority

Chapter.  24281 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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