The Fall 2014 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Mary-Louise Gill, Brown University. The title of Professor Gill's talk is "Virtue And Reason In Aristotle's Nichomahean Ethics." (Abstract below.)
Friday, Oct 17, 3-5pm, Social Sciences 224 (1145 E South Campus Drive).
In “Virtue and Reason in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics,” I analyze Aristotle’s definition of moral virtue in EN 2.6 by examining its various components and how they fit together, and undertake to demonstrate the role of reason (logos) in articulating the components individually and unifying the state as a whole. I argue that moral virtue, a state of the desiderative part of soul obedient to reason, differs from the opposing vices of excess and deficiency in its flexible response to variable situations. A particular virtue, such as courage, sets a goal—“Do what courage demands in this situation!”—but to choose an appropriate action (often through deliberation), a virtuous agent must first exercise reason to delimit the goal to suit the particular occasion, so as to provide deliberation with an adequate starting-point. The exercise of reason depends on perception to establish the relevant facts, and in ongoing situations to revise the assessment so that the agent can intervene effectively as circumstances evolve over time. While Aristotle’s treatment of deliberation and choice in practical wisdom has been much discussed, I focus on a topic that has received less attention: the role of reason and perception in establishing the variable starting-points of deliberation.