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Moral Actions in the Nicomachean Ethics: reason, emotion, and moral development

Grant number: 17/23706-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2018
Effective date (End): February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal researcher:Lucas Angioni
Grantee:Angelo Antonio Pires de Oliveira
Home Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):19/15390-5 - Virtue of Character as Hexis Prohairetike in the Ethica Nicomachea: disposition, deliberation, character, and reason, BE.EP.DR


In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that both character and reason are responsible for delimiting and implementing the moral actions. The Aristotelian text, nonetheless, brings several exegetical and philosophical issues when one tries to determine exactly which are the roles played by character and reason in the moral actions. There is a set of passages in the Nicomachean Ethics in which Aristotle apparently defends the following distribution of roles: the character is responsible for adopting the moral goals while reason has under its responsibility the task of determining how to achieve the goals. The distribution of roles presented is problematic, for it ascribes the role of adopting the moral goals to a capacity that Aristotle classifies as non-rational; furthermore, it restricts the role of reason to find the "means" to achieve those goals. However, in other passages, Aristotle seems to argue in favour of a different distribution of tasks. In such passages, the character is under the rule of reason, which is presented as the character's guide to moral issues. Aristotle's claims seem to reveal a certain inconsistency in the formulation of the distribution of roles between character and reason. My research proposal is to investigate the formulations made by Aristotle with respect to the roles played by character and reason in the achievement of moral actions. My main interpretive hypothesis is that the division of tasks should be understood within a psychology of moral development.

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