Chapter

Introduction: Moral Responsibility and Aristotle’s Concerns

Susan Sauvé Meyer

in Aristotle on Moral Responsibility

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199697427
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191732072 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697427.003.0001
Introduction: Moral Responsibility and Aristotle’s Concerns

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This introductory chapter begins by outlining the reasons why one might doubt that Aristotle's concern with voluntariness is a concern with moral responsibility. These various motives for scepticism amount to the suspicion that Aristotle's goals and concerns in discussing voluntariness, as well as the notions he invokes and the methods he uses, are not those of someone concerned with developing a theoretical account of moral responsibility. This book argues, on the contrary, that Aristotle's concerns and aims in his various discussions of voluntariness are precisely those of a theorist of moral responsibility. Aristotle has an account of moral responsibility that is far from being an uncritical recapitulation of commonsense notions. It is a sophisticated philosophical account capable of solving most of the problems that a theory of moral responsibility must address. The chapter sketches the view attributed to Aristotle and the argument of the following chapters. It then discusses the textual evidence for Aristotle's views, and sketches the ordinary notions of voluntariness (to hekousion) and involuntariness (to akousion) in the light of which Aristotle develops his account.

Keywords: Aristotle; Eudemian; Nicomachean Ethics; moral responsibility; voluntariness; involuntariness; hekousion; akousion

Chapter.  6649 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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