Textbook Notes (362,776)
Canada (158,052)
Philosophy (115)
PHL100Y1 (23)

NE3.1-5.oh.pdf Nichomacheian ethics

2 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Jeffrey Kopstein

NE 3.1-5: ACTION THEORY [1] Aristotle devotes NE3.1–5 to issues of what nowadays is called “action theory”: the under- lying distinctions, mechanics, and principles behind straightforward cases of (im)moral action. These are surprisingly hard to get straight. Three topics are discussed here: (a) the voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary; (b) rational choice, deliberation, and the relation of means to ends; (c) commissions and omissions. [2] An action is voluntary, according to Aristotle, if and only if two conditions are met: [V1] The principle/origin of the action is within the agent [V2] The agent is aware of the relevant particular circumstances of the action Failures of [V1] may render an action involuntary, failures of [V2] may render it non-voluntary. Each of these calls for some explanation. [3]An action is involuntary if its originating principle is not within the agent. This happens in two ways: either the action originates outside of the agent, who “contributes nothing at all to the action” (e.g. hypnotism, mere reflex actions, the imperius curse); or the action is chosen in some particular circumstances but would not otherwise be chosen (e.g. throwing the cargo overboard so the ship doesn’t sink). In the latter case, says Aristotle, the action is a mixture of the voluntary and the involuntary. Note the key role of the counterfactual, that the action would not be done were the circumstances otherwise—if the action is one that would have been done even in different circumstances, Aristotle is reluctant to say that it is involuntary. This has to do with the deep point that actions flow from character, and character is reasonably stable across circumstances. [4] An action is non-voluntary if the agent is ignorant in some way of the relevant circumstances. a We are given a list of these circumstances at 1111 3–15: who the agent is, what he is doing, who is acted upon, the means employed, the end in view, and the manner of the action. (This list becomes famous in its own right.) It turns out that only certain kinds of ignorance may excuse, that is, may affect the agent’s culpability, which is therefore not simply a matter of an action’s voluntariness. Now consequent ignorance is ignorance that is itself the product of voluntary action, either direct or habitual; concomitant ignorance is ignorance that would not change the action were it not present, that is, were the agent to have the r
More Less

Related notes for PHL100Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.