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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: Virtue

Aristotle: Virtue

(p.153) (p.154) 8 Aristotle: Virtue
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Terence Irwin

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses Aristotle's references to the Function Argument, which mark some of the places in the ethics where he relies on claims about human nature. These references determine the shape of his account of the virtues of character and intellect. The Function Argument concludes that virtue has a central place in happiness, since it identifies happiness with activity of the soul in accordance with virtue. Virtue, in turn, is the state in which something performs its function well. This account of virtue is more informative than it may initially seem. Aristotle claims that the human function is realized in a life of action (praxis) of the rational part of the soul, and hence in the rational choice of actions to be valued for their own sakes. In claiming that the virtues complete human nature, he argues that they complete the nature of human beings as rational agents.

Keywords:   Aristotle, virtue, character, intellect, Function Argument, function, rationality

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