Evaluating Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

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In Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, he outlines the different scenarios in which one is responsible for her actions. There is, however, a possible objection which raises the possibility that nobody is responsible for their actions. Are we responsible for some of our actions after all? If so, under what circumstances? Based on an evaluation of Aristotle’s arguments and the objection that stands against it, people are responsible for voluntary actions and involuntary actions whose circumstances or particulars they themselves have caused. In order to evaluate Aristotle’s ethical argument, it is first necessary to explain his definitions of character acquisition, volition, and responsibility. Aristotle defines character acquisition very succinctly:…show more content…
He describes the objection as, “all men desire the apparent good, but have no control over the appearance, but the end appears to each man in a form answering to his character” (1114b). This view argues that all people pursue that which seems good, but some people cannot see the true good, which is out of their control. The immediate implication of this objection, if it is indeed true, suggests that “no one is responsible for his own evildoing” (1114b). This argument, though most people would intuitively disagree with it, is in reality quite compelling. Just as those who are colorblind can not paint, and the crippled can not run, those with a naturally flawed or warped view of what is good can not be virtuous. Similarly, the virtuous can not take credit for their virtue because they are simply gifted with a clearer view of what is good, which is completely out of their control. Eventually, Aristotle does not completely refute this claim, but rests upon his earlier argument that one’s actions control her character: “if each man is somehow responsible for his state of mind, he will also be himself somehow responsible for the appearance” (1114b). If you are willing to believe that a person can change her state of character by habitual repeated actions, then Aristotle’s claim about…show more content…
Those who commit wicked acts because they can not see what is truly good have a skewed point of view for a reason. Their character is tainted by vice because they have habitually committed vicious acts in the past. Since they originally had a conscience, they must have willingly committed wrongdoing to warp their perception of what is good. Therefore, those who pursue an apparent good but commit wrong acts, due to a skewed appearance of what is good, are still responsible for their
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