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Title: Ethics for rational animals : a study of the cognitive psychology at the basis of Aristotle's ethics
Author: Fiecconi, Elena Cagnoli
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 8003
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Aristotle is, at the same time, a student of psychology and a student of ethics. He takes the two disciplines to be linked: the ethicist should know something about the human soul. In this thesis, I start from a study of Aristotle's cognitive theory to shed new light on his account of virtue, moral education and practical wisdom. I draw three main conclusions. First, I argue that eliminating certain false evaluative appearances is necessary to achieve virtue. It is widely assumed that achieving virtue requires eliminating vicious desires. I show that it also requires eliminating the false evaluative appearances that give rise to vicious desires. Second, I show that moral education addresses first and foremost the workings of our perceptual-recognitional faculties. Moral education trains us to recognise fine things (kala) perceptually. Third, I argue that Aristotle develops a notion of practical wisdom (phronēsis) as a distinctive kind of rational excellence. Unlike other rational excellences, practical wisdom is persuasive as well as discriminative. Although its goal is to reconstruct Aristotle's views on the links between ethics and psychology, this study is not guided by historical interest only. Some details of Aristotle's cognitive theory are outdated. However, his observations on attention, on rational and non-rational cognition, and on practical and theoretical thought are always deep and often persuasive. The theory of virtue, practical rationality and moral education Aristotle develops taking into account these observations is controversial, but it continues to call for our close philosophical consideration and assessment.
Supervisor: Coope, Ursula ; Moss, Jessica Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; University of Oxford
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available