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Title: Aristotle's ethical theory of action
Author: Chew, C. A. A. M.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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This dissertation consists of an interpretation of Aristotle’s treatment of wanting, choice and moral responsibility that focuses on action as expressive of emotion and character. It culminates in Aristotelian definitions of: what it is to act virtuously, what it is to act at all, what a virtue is, and what it is for a human being to flourish. Chapter II consists of a detailed reading of Aristotle’s EN III.2-3 analysis of prohairesis (choice, principle) and an interpretation of the ‘practical syllogism’ (MA 7, EN VII.3). It first argues that and explains how prohairesis is thoughtful wanting (boulēsis) in EN III.4 according to which what is thoughtfully wanted is what appears fine and pleasant. It then relates this definition to a distinction between what is pleasant merely because of one’s personality and what is ‘truly’ pleasant to be found in EN X.5. It thereby argues that thoughtful wanting is constituted by emotions, understood as conative states through which ways of acting thought right (wrong) appear pleasant (unpleasant) in imagination. Chapter IV argues that EN III.5 is centred on an analysis of ethical imputation that builds upon the treatment of coerced doing and doing infected by ignorance in EN III.1. Challenging the prevailing ‘ignorance of principle’ – ‘ignorance of fact’ interpretation, it develops and defends a reading according to which culpable (non-culpable) ignorance is ignorance that indicates (does not indicate) failure to apprehend the situation as virtue requires. It thereby argues that according to our practices of ethical imputation as analysed by Aristotle, acting as virtue requires without emoting as virtue requires is impossible.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available