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Discusiones Filosóficas

Print version ISSN 0124-6127

Abstract

BERMUDEZ, JUAN PABLO. Can reason establish the goals of action? Assessing interpretations of Aristotle’s theory of agency. discus.filos [online]. 2017, vol.18, n.30, pp.35-62. ISSN 0124-6127.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17151/difil.2017.18.30.3.

Scholarship on Aristotle’s theory of action has recently tended towards an intellectualist position, according to which reason is in charge of establishing the ends of actions. A resurgence of anti-intellectualism, according to which establishing ends is a task of character and not of reason, has placed this position under criticism. This paper argues that neither of the two interpretations can suffi ciently account for the complexities of Aristotle’s theory, and suggests an intermediate path that combines the strengths of both while avoiding their difficulties. The crucial problem for intellectualism is that Aristotle asserts explicitly that reason cannot establish the ends of action. The crucial problem for anti-intellectualism is that he also asserts that the rational part of the soul must guide and govern the irrational part. The paper sketches indirect intellectualism, a promising middle path.

Keywords : Aristotle; action; practical rationality; reason; intellectualism; anti-intellectualism; character; deliberation.

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