Aristotle's Ideals of Friendship and Virtue

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Aristotle's eudaimonism commits him to holding that the virtuous agent chooses everything ultimately for the sake of his own eudaimonia. But within this eudaimonist framework, Aristotle claims that the agent must value his friend for the friend's sake, and that he must choose virtuous actions for themselves. How can we make sense of these claims wi thin Aristotle's eudaimonist framework? I argue that Aristotle holds that there is a necessary, conceptual connection between valuing a friend for the friend's sake and valuing a friend for the sake of one's own happiness, and likewise for virtue. In friendship, this view of Aristotle's is buttressed by his potent but inchoate view that true friends are a "single soul", a fact not recognized by most commentators. I develop this view at length and show that Aristotle thinks that through a friendship, the character and well-being of each friend is essentially shaped by, and defined by reference to, the other. This both explains and justifies friends in perceiving their relationship as a unit and being motivated by what I call "WeAttitudes". To the extent that friends are a single soul, it is not the case that I value my friend for my sake or that he values me for his sake. Rather, it is the single soul that values itself for its own sake. Concerning virtue, I argue that Aristotle holds that to choose a virtuous action for its own sake is to choose it for those features of it that make it a virtuous action. Since it is an essential feature of any virtuous action that it actualizes the agent's capacity for virtue - which is that in which eudaimonia primarily consists - it must be chosen for this feature of it. Anticipating the worry that Aristotle's virtuous agent does not have a proper regard for others, I show that there are at least some virtuous actions whose essential features refer plainly to the well-being of others. Therefore, these actions are chosen both for these features and for their eudaimonic features, without one set of features being valued for the sake of the other set.

Doctor of Philosophy

Carreras, Anthony Edward. "Aristotle's Ideals of Friendship and Virtue." (2011) Diss., Rice University.

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