Philosophy Class

"The Truth will make you odd."

Metaphysics behind Aristotle's Ethics


Aristotelian Metaphysical Principles and Principles Derived from Metaphysical Principles Used in His Nicomachean Ethics.

The good that causes happiness should be a man's own possession and not easily removed. Excellence is better than honor.


Excellence is better than honor.


Good is predicated of singulars. (good time, good substance, good relations, etc.)


There is an attainable good.


The end of our action is the good. (ex. The end of building is a house.)


All actions are chosen because of the end.


We choose some ends as means to other ends.


The Highest good is our final end and not a means to another end.


The goodness of man resides in his proper function. (Remember as each


part of the body has the proper function, so does the whole man.)


Man's Hierarchy of goods.


           Vegetative good

             Animal or sensing good

  Rational element.



Activity is the life of reason as opposed to mere possession of reason.

Activity is more perfect than possession.

Proper function equals high standards

Proper function of life in man is life based on the rational element of man.

Man's excellence equals life in conformity with the rational element



Man's excellence is virtue.

Virtue gives one power over oneself. (Most important!)





               Aristotle's Ethics



Aristotle: Division of Moral Virtues

from Approaches to Morality, ad. Mann/Krsyche

1. Division of Moral Virtues According to Feeling




FEELING               VIRTUE           DEFECT             EXCESS

Confidence            Courage         Cowardliness      Rashness


Fear                      Courage         Fearlessness      Cowardice


Pleasures              Self-control    Insensibility     Self-indulgence


Anger                   Gentleness     Spiritlessness     Irascibility


Shame                 Modesty          Shameless        Bashfulness



Aristotle also listed the following:


FEELING: Pain and pleasure felt at the good or

bad fortune of others.


VIRTUE: Righteous joy at the deserved good

fortune of others: righteousness indignation at

the undeserved good fortune of others.


DEFECT: Malice or rejoicing at the ill fortune of



EXCESS: Envy or deep sorrow in view of the

good fortune of others.

But according to Aristotle, the feelings of shame

and pain and pleasure at the good or bad fortune

of others are intermediate states, not pure

feelings, and their corresponding virtues are not

virtues in the strict sense.



Division of Moral Virtues according to Action. (Praxis)


Action            Virtue              Defect             excess           



ACTION - Giving and getting money  on a modest scale:   


Virtue - Liberality                         


Defect - Stinginess


Excess - Prodigality




Action - Giving money on a large  scale                                   


Virtue- Magnificence                          


Defect - Stinginess                     


Excess - Vulgarity



Action- Pursuit of Honors on a modest scale:


Virtue- Proper pride 


Defect- Lack of ambition                                  


Excess- PRIDE                              




Action- Pursuit of Honors on a large scale


Virtue- Greatness of Soul                     


Defect- Undue Humility                     


'Excess- Empty Vanity 






Action- Conversation


Virtue -Truthfulness(Sincerity)                                                              


Excess- Boastfulness              


Defect- Self-deprication



Action- Pleasantness


Virtue- Wittiness


Defect- Boorishness                                       





Action- Companionship


Virtue- Friendliness


Excess - Quarrelsomeness                                  


Defect- Obsequiousness and flattery




Action- Exchange of goods : 


Virtue- Justice


Excess- InJustice           


Defect-  Injustice     



IMPORTANT **(no in between: either justice or injustice)




There are two species of justice:


1.General Justice: and this is practically identical with being fully

virtuous since it includes every virtue.


2. Particular Justice: which has three types.


     a. Equity: it is "rectification of law where law is defective

because of its generality"


      b. Distributive Justice


      c. Corrective/Commutative Justice (Nicomachean Ethics)