Moral virtue is, for Aristotle, a state to which an agent’s motivation is central. For anyone interested in Aristotle’s account of moral development this invites reflection on two questions: how is it that virtuous motivational dispositions are established? And what contribution do the moral learner’s existing motivational states make to the success of her habituation? I argue that views which demand that the learner act with virtuous motives if she is to acquire virtuous dispositions misconstrue the nature and structure of the habituation process, but also obscure Aristotle’s crucial insight that the very practice of virtuous actions affords a certain discovery and can be transformative of an agent’s motivational states. Drawing attention, in Aristotle’s account, to an asymmetry between the agential perspective and the observation of others, I consider what the agential perspective affords the learner, and offer a novel interpretation of the role a learner’s existing motives play in her habituation.
Prevailing interpretations of Aristotle’s use of syllogistic language outside the Organon hold that he offers a single, comprehensive theory of the practical syllogism spanning his ethical and biological works. These comprehensive theories of the practical syllogism are plausible neither philosophically nor as interpretations of Aristotle. I argue for a multivocal account of the practical syllogism that distinguishes (1) Aristotle’s use of syllogistic language to explain aspects of his account of animal motion in MA from (2) his use of syllogistic language to explain aspects of his account of the distinctive practical cognition of the phronimos in EN. I offer a novel account of the role of syllogistic language in ethics, arguing that it elucidates a nuanced account of universals and particulars in ethics according to which acting virtuously requires an understanding of underlying universal values and a capacity to relate them to concrete, particular features of our circumstances.
There seems to be universal agreement among Epicurean scholars that friendship characterized by other-concern is conceptually incompatible with Epicureanism understood as a directly egoistic theory. I reject this view. I argue that once we properly understand the nature of friendship and the Epicurean conception of our final end, we are in a position to demonstrate friendship’s compatibility with, and centrality within, Epicureanism’s direct egoism.