6 pages/≈1650 words
Philosophy (Essay Sample)
Please read book III of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (prefer Irwin's translation, published 1992) Background Aristotle presents an extremely plausible and highly influential theory of moral responsibility in Book III of the Nicomachean Ethics. It is a theory that has shaped, in fundamental ways, both our common sense views of responsibility and the way our legal system addresses questions of responsibility. Plausible as the theory is, Aristotle acknowledges, and tries to respond to, several arguments one might offer for thinking that people are not responsible for their actions. The most significant and troubling objection comes towards the end of his discussion at 1114b. The up-shot of the objection appears to be that people are never responsible for what they do. I think it is fair to say that most people think this cannot be right. They think that people are often responsible for what they do, even though they are pretty clearly not responsible for everything they do. The challenge facing this common view is to set out -- in an intelligible and justifiable way -- what the difference is between those things for which people are responsible and those for which they are not, and to do so in a way that makes sense of thinking people are sometimes responsible for some of their actions. This is a huge challenge, but coming to grips with the challenge is itself an important accomplishment. A crucial first step is figuring out what -- if anything -- one thinks is wrong with the argument for believing that people are never responsible for what they do. There are two main possibilities here. Either you think people are sometimes responsible for what they do, so there must be something wrong with the argument, or you think the argument works, and so think people are never responsible for what they do. (A third possibility is that you think the argument Aristotle considers does not work, but you think some other argument with the same conclusion does, so you think people are never responsible for what they do.) Many people discover themselves flipping back and forth on this question, sometimes being convinced by the argument, other times being sure it can not be right. Assignment Your essay assignment is to come to grips with the challenge raised at 1114b. So, in your essay, present (in as clear and careful a way as you can) Aristotle's theory of responsibility, being sure to relate it accurately to his theories of action and character acquisition. To do this well you will need to bring out explicitly what he seems to think people are responsible for and why he thinks they are responsible for those things (and what he thinks people are not responsible for and why). Against that background, or along the way, consider the objection at 1114b. In considering the objection, you should (i) present it as clearly and forcefully as you can, (ii) explain how Aristotle might best respond to the objection and (iii) make clear in the process what you think of the adequacy of the resulting view and why. You should, in doing these three things, relate what you say, as appropriate, to Aristotle's theories of action and character acquisition and more generally to the text. You are asked to consider an important challenge to the idea that people are ever morally responsible for their actions, not because it is clearly successful but because coming to understand it is crucial to understanding the nature of responsibility. In doing the assignment you will have to critically engage with the arguments in play. This is the key to, and one of the pleasures of, doing -- as opposed merely to reading or reporting -- philosophy. Structure your final essay so as to make clear early what your own view is, and then organize what follows so as to defend that view clearly and well. (As you know, an important part of offering a strong defense is to anticipate and respond to worries and objections that others might reasonably think tell against your position.) Please incorporate the following outline in the essay. =========== Set out Aristotle theory of responsibility 1. Voluntary vs not - Define and Examples 2. Nonvoluntary vs involuntary - Define and Examples 3. Virtues and vices - Define and Examples 4. Responsibility - Define and Examples 5. Force, ignorance - Define and Examples You're responsible for - What you do voluntary, or - If you voluntary cause the situation that produce it Possible objections: People don't always aim at the apparent good Authorities you can trust People are never responsible for what they do source..
Running Header: Aristotle and Theory of Responsibility Name Course Professor Date Aristotle and Theory of Responsibility According to Aristotle, all men endeavor at the noticeable good, but they have no power over the outward show; however, the closing stages become visible to each man in an appearance that provides answers to his personality. The assessment of an individual’s actions is dependent to some degree, on whether these actions appear to be voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary (“Nicomachean Ethics,” 2011). Voluntary, Involuntary and Non Voluntary Aristotle states that each and every person is responsible for his/her voluntary action, therefore to get the whole concept around voluntary action of a person and responsibility, it is imperative that we find out, under what circumstances is an individual deemed responsible for his/her actions and what parameters are used to administer the person’s responsibility under those circumstances. Simply, in depth analysis of Aristotle’s idea leads us to the conclusion that voluntary actions are those which apparently stem from no ignorance and the agent in question performed it with prior and precise principle. Aristotle is so smart and distinguishes between the other remaining side of responsibility. He does not leave it as such. According to him, in the whole aspect of what is not voluntary, he directs that there is involuntary and non voluntary. The former action according to Aristotle is that action which is usually performed under coercion, and it frequently causes pain or brings harm to the individual doing it, but in the same instance the person is with no particular feelings of pains or the utmost regret for his/her actions, in this case the person is considered to be acting involuntarily. There exist intermediate cases such as times when individuals are forced to do some dishonorable things under threats. However, this action can be considered to be voluntary in view of the fact that these individuals still have power over their actions. But otherwise, a person acting under pressure or is compelled is referred to be acting non voluntarily. Aristotle assumes a predominantly firm position on the issue of what types of compulsions cause an action to be involuntary in his explanation of compulsion. A case in point would be a situation where one person pushes another person into a third individual. The second individual bumped into the third person involuntarily, for the reason that his abrupt movement was not instigated by himself. The philosopher explains this theory of responsibility as the case where, a person is compelled to act in a particular way far away from his wanting and control. A non voluntary person can also qualify as one who is doing actions out of his/her own self ignorance Explanations and Objections There exist several literatures that have dissected the current moral philosophy. In all probability, an individual can be held morally responsible for any action that he does under his own free will. As a result, it would be imperative to determine the cause and scope of one’s freedom as an essential precondition in the determination of the cause and extent of moral responsibility. In the discussion of free will, there are several metaphysical problems that are brought to light. Nevertheless, the first problem is determinism. Being subjected to conventional and static physical laws means that individuals would be restricted in doing things they want. A number of philosophers have argued that free will is just a figment of one’s imagination. On the other hand, other philosophers have argued that determinism is also a false impression. The last group of philosophers has argued that having an apposite comprehension of the notions of determinism and free will would illustrate the ex...
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