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Aristotle’s Account of Moral Perception (EN.VI.8) & Nussbaum’s Priority of the Particular Thesis

Aristotle’s Account of Moral Perception (EN.VI.8) & Nussbaum’s Priority of the Particular Thesis

Benjamin Hole, “Aristotle’s Account of Moral Perception (EN.VI.8) & Nussbaum’s Priority of the Particular Thesis,” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 77, no. 1 (2021): 357–80, https://doi.org/10.17990/RPF/2021_77_1_0357.

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  • Aristotle’s Account of Moral Perception (EN.VI.8) & Nussbaum’s Priority of the Particular Thesis

    Type Journal Article
    Author Benjamin Hole
    Rights © 2021 by Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    Volume 77
    Issue 1
    Pages 357-380
    Publication Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    ISSN 0870-5283
    Date 2021
    DOI 10.17990/RPF/2021_77_1_0357
    Language English
    Abstract Consider a contemporary retrieval of Aristotle’s account of moral perception. Drawing from EN.VI.8, Martha Nussbaum argues that we perceive moral particulars prior to ethical principles. First, I explain her priority of the particular thesis. The virtuous person perceives value in the world, as part of her moral deliberation. This perceptual skill is an important aspect of her virtuous activity, and hence also part of her eudaimonia. Second, I present her priority thesis with a dilemma: our perception of moral particulars is either non-inferential or it is inferential. If Nussbaum accepts a non-inferential interpretation, then she is committed to an unsavory view about moral epistemology –one that invites intuitionism and relativism. But if she accepts a non-inferential account, then the moral particular is no longer prior to the ethical principle. I suggest that her better option is to grab the second horn. This move avoids the problems of the first horn without sacrificing her neo-Aristotelian commitments or her overarching view that the perception of moral particulars is ineliminable to moral deliberation (and eudaimonia). At the same time, this move renders her priority thesis trivial.
    Date Added 4/29/2021, 12:33:25 AM
    Modified 4/29/2021, 11:53:15 AM

    Tags:

    • Aristotle, eudaimonia, moral perception, Nussbaum, particulars, principles, virtue ethics.

    Notes:

    • Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by William David Ross, edited by John Lloyd Ackrill and James Opie Urmson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.
      Cooper, John. Reason and the Human Good in Aristotle. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975.
      Hursthouse, Rosalind. On Virtue Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. https://doi.org/10.1093/0199247994.001.0001.​
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      Nussbaum, Martha. The Fragility of Goodness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986.
      Nussbaum, Martha. Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
      Rachels, James. “The Challenge of Cultural Relativism.” In Elements of Moral Philosophy. New York: McGraw Hill (1978): 20-36. Reprinted in Ethics, edited by Stephen Cahn and Peter Markie, 696-703. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2009).
      Rashdall, Hastings. The Theory of Good and Evil. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907.
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      Sidgwick, Henry. The Methods of Ethics. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1981.

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