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Why does Aristotle Think that Ethical Virtue is Required for Practical Wisdom?

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Abstract In this paper, I ask why Aristotle thinks that ethical virtue (rather than mere self-control) is required for practical wisdom. I argue that a satisfactory answer will need to explain why being prone to bad appetites implies a failing of the rational part of the soul. I go on to claim that the self-controlled person does suffer from such a rational failing: a failure to take a specifically rational kind of pleasure in fine action. However, this still leaves a problem: could there not be someone who (unlike the self-controlled person) took the right kind of pleasure in fine action, but who failed to be virtuous on account of bad appetites? If so, would such a person be practically wise but not virtuous? I end with some suggestions about how Aristotle might answer this.

Affiliations: 1: Corpus Christi College Merton Street, Oxford OX1 4FJ UK ursula.coope@philosophy.ox.ac.uk

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