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Theses Doctoral

Aristotle's Explanation for the Value of the External Goods

Halim, Ian

An interpretation of how Aristotle explains the value of worldly goods within the terms of his ethical theory in the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle claims that to live in a worthwhile and subjectively satisfying way--that is, to achieve eudaimonia--one needs such things as honor, wealth, friends, and political power. He groups these things together as the external goods, since they are all external in a spatial sense from the perspective of any given person. It is clear that people almost always attach value to such things, but it is less clear why Aristotle should. My aim is to explain why Aristotle regards these things as important, and--in a more formal sense--how far his definition of eudaimonia explains their value. On Aristotle's formal theory, the external goods ought to gain value through some relation to excellent rational activity, but fleshing out the details of this relation raises problems. Chapter 2 assesses Aristotle's formal argument for the value of such goods at NE I.1099a31-b8, chapter 1 develops an account of Aristotle's method in order to support this assessment, and chapter 3 considers the kinds of explanations for the value of the external goods available to Aristotle in terms of his account of action. Chapter 4 draws on the results of the earlier chapters to assess Aristotle's position on moral luck--that is, how Aristotle regards his various categories of value as depending upon factors outside of the agent's control. My aim throughout is to consider how successfully Aristotle draws on his formal theory in order to explain the value of the external goods as well as external things in the broadest sense.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Wolfgang, Mann
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 30, 2013