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Lecture 3

PHL 503 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Nicomachean Ethics, Naturalistic Fallacy

Course Code
PHL 503
Julien Beillard

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Nicomachean Ethics: Aristotle
PHL 503
Can be considered the rst truly modern philosopher in a way although he is
called an ancient philosopher; he is empirically-minded
oSenses and unaided human reason
oTalks about the 'gods' but doesn’t appeal to them
Part 1: puts forward virtues to guide our ethics
oBeing virtuous by itself is not enough
It is not the highest end because if you never act on it, there is
no point
Virtue is a disposition, not necessarily an act
It is virtue in accordance with reason that is the highest ultimate
good for humans
oFound real knowledge in crafts and skilled trades but their ignorance
was that because they weren't formally educated they overreached and
thought they knew about other things
Like Plato, he locates a real expertise in knowledge of art/crafts
and uses that as a model for 'real' knowledge of life
Living the 'good' life is an art or skill
oIn order to study ethics/the 'good', you have to have had some
experience of it
oYou often nd that in any art, there will be subordinate arts (ex. Art/skill
of medicine but you need to know other little things that make up this
skill, such as how to cut or do surgery, diagnosis, how to make medicines,
oThe goals/ends/goods associated with the subordinate arts are,
themselves, goods/ends
The end of medicine may be health (the value it is meant to
The end of pharmaceutical skills may be being able to produce a
certain medicine, but it contributes to the end of medicine
oThere are things that are extrinsically valuable/instrumental values
(Aristotle: non-nal values) and intrinsic values/non-instrumental value
(Aristotle: nal values)
Intrinsic: the kind of value that something has when it is valued
for itself and not as a means to anything else
Extrinsic: things that are in some way dependent on other facts
for their value
Many things can be both; they are not mutually exclusive
oThe very best possible kind of life is the contemplative life where the
thing being contemplated is life itself
Therefore the life of God
But it is beyond our human concerns
othe highest ideal is not just happiness
If you think the highest ideal is happiness, then you are a slave
to your appetites
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