Chapter

Aristotle on Function and Virtue

Christine M. Korsgaard

in The Constitution of Agency

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552733
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720321 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552733.003.0006
 Aristotle on Function and Virtue

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According to Plato and Aristotle, a virtue is a quality that makes you good at performing your function. Aristotle thinks that the human function is rational activity. This chapter asks how the moral virtues could contribute to rational activity. It distinguishes five different answers suggested by the text of the Nicomachean Ethics, and examines their merits and demerits. Combining the most promising of them, it argues that in Aristotle's theory, rationality is a potential that is actualized by the acquisition of the virtues. By providing correct evaluative perceptions, the moral virtues bring the soul into a transformed condition in which appetites and passions are caused by rational considerations.

Keywords: activity; Aristotle; evaluative; function; passion; perception; pleasure; potential; rational; virtue

Chapter.  11455 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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