The Ethical Theory of Aristotle's Eudemian Ethics


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The most widely known aspect of Aristotle’s approach to ethics is his emphasis on virtue. Fundamental to his ethical theory are the questions “Why should I be virtuous?” and “What does virtue consist in?” Interpreters have long looked to his famous “Nicomachean Ethics” (NE) for answers to these questions, but they seldom examine his other major ethical treatise, the “Eudemian Ethics” (EE). In the century since it has been authenticated, Aristotle’s EE has often been dismissed as an earlier and inferior version of the NE. This project reconstructs the ethical theory of the EE by recovering answers to questions of fundamental interest in ethics and metaethics. It focuses on elements of the EE that differ from established interpretations of Aristotle’s NE, and finds that not only are some of its answers better than the ones found in the NE in several important respects, but it also provides new tools for addressing contemporary debates in ethics.