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The Development of Ethics: Volume 1From Socrates to the Reformation$
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Terence Irwin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198242673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242673.001.0001

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Aristotle: Nature

Aristotle: Nature

(p.134) 7 Aristotle: Nature
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Terence Irwin

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks more closely at Aristotle's position on function, essence, and nature. Here Aristotle explains what he means by attributing a function to human beings, and on what grounds he attributes it to them. Aristotle's claims about function do not simply say that we have natural tendencies. He also attributes to human beings a nature that is not simply the sum of all natural tendencies. To speak of a thing's nature and of what is in accord with its nature is to select among the natural tendencies, since they may not all accord with the nature of the whole. Aristotle's conception of nature connects a thing's nature with its essence, and with the kind that it belongs to. This account of the Function Argument attributes a naturalist position to Aristotle. He argues for his account of the human good from premises about the nature of human beings as rational animals.

Keywords:   Aristotle, function, essence, nature, human beings, Function Argument

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