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Title: Reason in Action: Accountability, Rational Control, and the Voluntary in Aristotle
Authors: Wolt, Daniel Mark
Advisors: Lorenz, Hendrik
Contributors: Philosophy Department
Keywords: Aristotle
Eudemian Ethics
moral responsibility
Nicomachean Ethics
rational control
voluntary action
Subjects: Philosophy
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: For Aristotle, when an ordinary, adult human acts voluntarily, that agent is accountable for that action in the sense that she has the right standing to be praised if the action was good or blamed if the action was bad. The main question I am concerned with is this: what is it about the agent’s having acted voluntarily that makes that agent accountable for the resulting action? I suggest that Aristotle’s two treatments of the question, in the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics, share with certain of Plato’s later dialogues one core idea that is developed and worked out in interestingly different ways: all three sets of texts agree that the fact that an adult, human agent acts voluntarily implies that that action exhibits what I shall loosely term rational control over the action -- the action is caused by the agent by means of an exercise of the capacities that adult humans have qua practically rational beings. The texts also all agree that actions that are not caused by an exercise of the agent’s rational capacities in the relevant way are not voluntary and hence the agent is not accountable for them. The texts disagree, however, both in how they understand the relevant notion of rational control and, accordingly, what actions get classed as voluntary or involuntary (or neither).
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Philosophy

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