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Aristotle on the Sources of the Ethical Life$
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Sylvia Berryman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198835004

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198835004.001.0001

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Aristotle’s Metaethics

Aristotle’s Metaethics

(p.128) 7 Aristotle’s Metaethics
Aristotle on the Sources of the Ethical Life

Sylvia Berryman

Oxford University Press

Aristotle’s critique of attempts to ground ethics in metaphysical abstractions would be the logical place for him to have articulated the case for a naturalistic ethics, but he does not do so. Rather, we find, in Eudemian Ethics, a contrary case for a distinction between the natural good and the practical good. Given Aristotle’s well-known emphasis on the nature of action, and his practice of beginning normative treatises from the nature of action, we can see implicit in this focus an argument that, for rational agents, the fact that we aim at some good commits us to seeking the genuine or true good. This chapter argues that an apparent fallacy in the first sentence of Nicomachean Ethics yields—if properly understood—an insistence that rational agency requires consideration of the truly best goal.

Keywords:   Aristotle’s ethics, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, Archimedean ethical naturalism, natural good, practical good

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