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Aristotle, Akrasia, and the Place of Desire in Moral Reasoning

Byron J. Stoyles
Ethical Theory and Moral Practice
Vol. 10, No. 2 (April 2007), pp. 195-207
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40602523
Page Count: 13
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Aristotle, Akrasia, and the Place of Desire in Moral Reasoning
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Abstract

This paper serves both as a discussion of Henry's (Ethical Theory Moral Practice, 5:255-270, 2002) interpretation of Aristotle on the possibility of akrasia -knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway -and an indication of the importance of desire in Aristotle's account of moral reasoning. As I will explain, Henry's interpretation is advantageous for the reason that it makes clear how Aristotle could have made good sense of genuine akrasia, a phenomenon that we seem to observe in the real world, while maintaining non-trivial distinctions between temperance (sôphrosunê), self-indulgence (akolasia), self-control (enkrateia) and akrasia. There are, however, some interpretive challenges that follow from Henry's account and this paper is intended to explain and resolve those.

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