The Varieties of Moral Failure

in Confronting Aristotle's Ethics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780226283982
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226284019 | DOI:
The Varieties of Moral Failure

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This chapter explores the background assumptions against which the theses of the Ethics make sense by raising the following questions: What are the background assumptions, psychological and sociological, that make it plausible to identify doing good and being in good condition? When can happiness be defined as virtuous activity? When, that is, is virtue the principal cause of happiness, while the factors that support the clause “in a complete life,” fortune and resources, are subsidiary? When is virtue rewarded? When is the subordination of the crafts to the virtues not only a philosophical thesis but a fact of life? Finally, what price does Aristotle pay for the exclusion of the crafts from happiness? These questions seem especially urgent in a world in which the advantages of virtue, and the superiority of virtue to skill, are not so apparent. We know today that the best way to insure a long life is to pick long-lived parents. Can Aristotle be confident that the best way to lead a good life is not similarly a function of luck?

Keywords: Ethics; doing good; being good; happiness; virtuous activity; virtues; Aristotle

Chapter.  11372 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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