Aristotle on Moral Responsibility: Character and Cause

Paperback | December 9, 2012

bySusan Sauve Meyer

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This is a reissue, with new introduction, of Susan Sauve Meyer's 1993 book, in which she presents a comprehensive examination of Aristotle's accounts of voluntariness in the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. She makes the case that these constitute a theory of moral responsibility - albeit onewith important differences from modern theories. Highlights of the discussion include a reconstruction of the dialectical argument in the Eudemian Ethics II 6-9, and a demonstration that the definitions of 'voluntary' and 'involuntary' in Nicomachean Ethics III 1 are the culmination of that argument. By identifying the paradigms of voluntarinessand involuntariness that Aristotle begins with and the opponents (most notably Plato) he addresses, Meyer explains notoriously puzzling features of the Nicomachean account - such as Aristotle's requirement that involuntary agents experience pain or regret. Other familiar features of Aristotle'saccount are cast in a new light. That we are responsible for the characters we develop turns out not to be a necessary condition of responsible agency. That voluntary action has its "origin" in the agent and that our actions are "up to us to do and not to so" - often interpreted as implying alibertarian conception of agency - turn out to be perfectly compatible with causal determinism, a point Meyer makes by locating these locutions in the context of a Aristotle's general understanding of causality. While Aristotle does not himself face or address worries that determinism isincompatible with responsibility, his causal repertoire provides the resources for a powerful response to incompatibilist arguments. On this and other fronts Aristotle's is a view to be taken seriously by theorists of moral responsibility.

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This is a reissue, with new introduction, of Susan Sauve Meyer's 1993 book, in which she presents a comprehensive examination of Aristotle's accounts of voluntariness in the Eudemian and Nicomachean Ethics. She makes the case that these constitute a theory of moral responsibility - albeit onewith important differences from modern theor...

Susan Sauve Meyer is Professor and Chair of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Ancient Ethics (Routledge, 2008) and numerous articles on Greek and Roman philosophy.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pagesPublished:December 9, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199697434

ISBN - 13:9780199697434

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsAbbreviations of Aristotle's WorksTablesIntroduction: Moral Responsibility and Aristotle's Concerns1. Moral Responsibility and Moral Character2. Voluntariness, Praiseworthiness, and Character3. The Dialectical Inquiry into Voluntariness4. Force, Compulsion, and the Internal Origin of Action5. Responsibility for Character: Its Scope and Significance6. Moral Agency and the Origination of ActionAppendix I: Varieties of Knowledge and IgnoranceAppendix II: "Up to Us" and the Internal OriginBibliographyGeneral IndexIndex Locorum

Editorial Reviews

"Meyer has produced a book that teems with lucid analyses of important Aristotelian concepts and casts a clarifying light on many an obscure passage. It will richly repay the careful study that it will certainly provoke." --Phronesis