NE III - Aristotle-Nicomachean Ethics III Aristotle on...

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Aristotle-Nicomachean Ethics III Aristotle on Moral Responsibility Three –way distinction: 1.) voluntary/intended ( hekousios ); 2.) involuntary/contrary to intention ( akousion ) 3.) non-voluntary/unintended (also hekousios - see III.1, 1110a4-b17). Aristotle begins by saying that people are praised and blamed for voluntary actions. But when shouldn’t they be praised and blamed? He identifies two main ways in which actions can be involuntary – force and ignorance. Force : physical force applied to me (by men or nature). E.g. I intend to go to Egypt, but the wind blows my boat off course. I cannot be blamed (or praised) if I do not arrive at Egypt. At 1110a2-3 a notes that strictly this is not really an action at all but only something that happens to one, the agent contributes no agency to the action. It is important to keep the previous type of case apart from other types of case when we do contribute agency but are not under physical force. One is under some sort of compulsion. (There is a general question as to what counts as force.) A’s example: a captain throws his cargo overboard to stop his ship from sinking. A says that the source of the action is internal (i.e. the captain). But he allows that in such circumstances such actions are involuntary: they are the sorts of thing that no one would choose to do in themselves. In other words, the captain’s action is understandable (and pardonable) since there was a good reason for his doing what he did and we presume he would not have thrown the cargo overboard unless there was a good reason. Aristotle calls such actions
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This note was uploaded on 04/18/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 100 taught by Professor Briancross during the Spring '09 term at Saint Louis.

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NE III - Aristotle-Nicomachean Ethics III Aristotle on...

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