Aristotle on Becoming Virtuous by Doing Virtuous Actions

In: Phronesis
Marta Jimenez Department of Philosophy, Emory University 561 S. Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, ga 30322 USA

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Aristotle’s claim that we become virtuous by doing virtuous actions raises a familiar problem: How can we perform virtuous actions unless we are already virtuous? I reject deflationary accounts of the answer given in Nicomachean Ethics 2.4 and argue instead that proper habituation involves doing virtuous actions with the right motive, i.e. for the sake of the noble, even though learners do not yet have virtuous dispositions. My interpretation confers continuity to habituation and explains in a non-mysterious way how we become virtuous by doing virtuous actions in the right way.

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