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Aristotle’s Ethics

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  1. Aristotle’s Ethics

  2. Aristotle’s Ethical Theory • Aristotle knows: Life is an opportunity for eudaimonia • moral virtues of character • intellectual virtue of prudence • interpersonal virtues of justice and friendship • “virtuous life” • Theoretical/knowledge • Practical/leadership

  3. The Good for Man = Eudaimonia • final, sufficient in itself • includes all good things • = a fulfilling human life • = rational, social and physical • Defn = “rational activity with virtue (in a complete life)”(I.7) • Not available to all— • many too limited by opportunity for personal development (slaves, destitute poverty, illness, women) • many societies disordered (wrong values, wrong people in power) • “Human self-actualization” not just a function of intellect or success, but of virtue

  4. Moral Virtues and Vices Areas of moral concern Related social institutions* Military and police, defense of country, law and order Marriage and family, physical pleasures Money and personal property, freedom to spend and gift Competitive offices & awards, public recognition and fame Legal, political and economic office, courts and trials by jury Higher education, leadership B/c these institutions and functions = relevant to life/happiness anywhere, these = “universal human virtues” • Risk of harm and fear = courage vs. cowardice • Bodily appetite, pleasure = temperance/intemperance • The use of money, wealth = generosity vs. cheapness • Concern for honor/esteem = magnanimity* vs. servility • Persons/cooperation w/others = justice vs. injustice • Reasoning re: ethics/politics • Megalopsychia is difficult to translate: dignity, proper pride, noble-mindedness, greatness, magnanimity are all possible

  5. The Virtue of Justice Virtue of Justice = --Obeying the Law --Fairness = willingly giving other his due 2 Forms of Justice --Distributive --Corrective 2 Concepts of Justice --Conventional --Natural

  6. Justice and Injustice • Injustice1 = crime, lawlessness, i.e. a person unrestrained by law-abidingness • Injustice2 = pleonexia, greedy or selfish desire to have ever-more and ‘out-do’ others Aristotle: the virtue and the vice are rare • Justice1 = social virtue of law-abidingness governed by the law and shame and honor • Justice2 = ethical virtue, gives others their due as a matter of principle • distribute or correct, without prejudice • rights may not all be equal

  7. Distributive = how goods/duties ought to be distributed Proportional by some measure Equality Merit/virtue Just man distributes based on principle of justice (e.g. merit or equality), not self-interest or emotion (e.g. envy, bias) Corrective = how punishments ought to be distributed Equally, relative to the harm done No class privileges, e.g. rich vs. poor Righteous judge corrects based on equality before the law, not favoritism or vengefulness Distributive vs. Corrective Justice

  8. Conventional = what the laws are Socially relative Change over time, vary in content Laws re: Family Property Liberty Politics Generally based on perceived interest of the rulers Natural= what the law ought to be Based on nature ‘Absolute’ and historically relative Ideal standards Human needs Highest human potentials But what is possible at a given time/place Based on actual interests of all Conventional vs. Natural Justice

  9. Justice = a moral virtue More than mere legality A “habit of choice” Willingly regarding others and oneself with the same standards—hits the ‘mean’ as determined by reason Applying principles of distributive corrective justice “Equity” = going beyond letter of your ‘rights’ (V.10) Concept of natural justice Related to intellect Moral imagination Often involves deliberation Willingly thinking of oneself and others as “under justice” Achieves ‘truth’, what is ‘right’ in the situation “Consideration” = seeing from other’s perspective, connects to “equity” (VI.11) Reasoning on natural justice: thinks beyond convention/law as it is Justice and Intellectual Virtue

  10. Justice vs. Friendship I • Justice = virtue of • Social order • Rules and Behavior • Institutions, offices and social duties • Life with others under rules • “Exceptions” (e.g. equity) • Friendship = virtue of • Interpersonal life • Feelings and Attitudes • Relationships of love and mutual obligation • Life in communities, shared interests • Feelings about justice and injustice stronger

  11. Justice and Friendship II • Interpersonal virtues • Justice = personal policy, principle • Beyond conventional justice • Justice as ideal • Friendship3 = based on moral qualities, mutual respect/love • Beyond • Business relationships • Pleasure-based friendships • Based on mutual regard, virtue • Tensions between justice/friendship • Justice: reciprocity = demanded by friends, friendship difficult if unequal VIII.7, 13f. • Friendship: prone to violate justice, as it seems we owe more to friends IX.2 f. • Friendship = a firmer bond than justice VIII.9

  12. What is Self-Love? • Is it good or bad? • Most self-love = mere selfishness or egotism • Self-love based on virtue is good • We should love ourselves, be “caretakers” of our virtue and well-being (compare Apology 30b)

  13. Aristotle’s Politics I • Rejects Republic as contrary to “natural law” —humans by nature desire/need: • Family life • Property of their own • Share in governing themselves (except for “natural slaves”)

  14. GOOD GOVTS Constitutional Monarchy = kingship w/in law Constitutional Aristocracy = ‘Meritocracy’ Constitutional Democracy (or Republic) = blend of others BAD GOVTS Tyranny = rule by fear (lawless)/chief value = domination Oligarchy = govt by the rich/chief value = money Democracy = rule by working class (least bad)/chief value = unrestricted liberty Aristotle’s Politics II:“Rule by philosopher-kings is impossible; men need the rule of law.”