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Lecture 3

Lecture 3 - Intro to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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University of Ottawa
Daniel Kofman

Jan. 14 Aristotle – Phronesis, Deliberation, the Good Life, Justice  Sophists - taught rhetoric – how to defend oneself in court  Metics - not free to participate in the institutions of the state  Allegory of the Cave – imitations of the “real” world The Ecclesia (roughly like parliament – assembly where the citizens would debate 1. Recap and some extras on Plato: • Strategic reasoning – “game theory” – is not an adequate explanation of morality. (Why not? A. Problem explaining free riding. B. Wrong explanation anyway). • Perfectionism -How to govern is normative, not just prudential (sophists) and theoretical (involves real knowledge). • Rule by lovers of wisdom – i.e. philosophers who have episteme: knowledge of Forms (conceptual, theoretical knowledge) Elitism – not “any cook can govern.” “…until lovers of wisdom rule or until rulers become lovers of wisdom…” • Property and the raising of children in common. So no private property and private families Strong revisionism: • No slaves • Gender equality of opportunity • Collectivist, perfectionist, elitist (totalitarian? Popper, Berlin, von Hayek). Aristotle • Agrees with perfectionism (an important function of the state is to make people moral beings/unable them to be virtuous), and importance of justice for social harmony (but different conception of justice). • Rejects Platonic metaphysics and epistemology, the rule by entrenched elite, and repudiation of competition for honour and power. Restores importance of political process • Ends up preserving natural slavery and paternalism • Allegiance to the whole important, but other allegiances to other associations too. Good life is complex, and not just to serve the whole. • Deliberation
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