Teleological Explanation

Rowland Stout

in Things That Happen Because They Should

Published in print October 1996 | ISBN: 9780198240631
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680212 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Philosophical Monographs

Teleological Explanation

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Aristotle defines teleological explanation as explanation of something in terms of what that thing is for the sake of. What it is for something to be for the sake of something else is for it to be a means to the end of that thing — a way of achieving that thing. He does not mean that something is justified in any final way in virtue of being a means to an end. If the end is bad, then the means to that end is not ultimately justified by it. Even if the end is itself justified, the means to that end is not always ultimately justified by it, since it may be wrong for other reasons. This chapter claims that saying that something is a means to an end is a way of justifying it, even if it is not always a very good way.

Keywords: teleological explanation; virtue; reasons; Aristotle; end; means; justification

Chapter.  17708 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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