Praxis Filosófica (Jun 2018)

Murdering, robbing and fornicating: moral absolutes in Aristotle

  • Leonardo Ramos Umaña

Journal volume & issue
no. 46
pp. 199 – 219


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In book II of Nicomachean Ethics (NE), Aristotle mentions 6 cases for which the formula ‘virtue is the mid-term’ doesn’t apply, i.e., 3 actions and 3 passions where it is impossible to think about a correct mode to execute them, actions and passions that will always be wrong regardless of contexts and agents, which is what we nowadays call “moral absolutes”. Within secondary bibliography, such statement hasn’t brought forward much controversy, but very few or nothing has been observed on the fact that (1) the quality that makes those 6 (actions and passions) reprehensible is also shared by many other actions and passions and, therefore, (2) we would be forced to accept that there’s a quite large list of “moral absolutes” in Aristotle.