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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Justice and happiness in Aristotle's philosophy of human things
by Guest, James William, II, Ph.D., University of Dallas, 2012, 210; 3535976
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation seeks to understand Aristotle's account of happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics. The bulk of the Nicomachean Ethics appears to teach that happiness chiefly consists in the activity of the soul in accordance with moral virtue. But at the end of the work, Aristotle concludes that happiness consists in theoretical activity or the contemplative life rather than in the morally virtuous activity that is the end of political life. Through a close examination of his teaching on justice in book five of the Nicomachean Ethics, supplemented by a reading of book three of the Politics, I conclude that Aristotle's defense of the happiness of the contemplative life rests on a critique of the happiness available in or through the practice of moral virtue.

Chapter one considers the political character of Aristotle's writings on ethics and politics, and examines the two accounts of happiness (NE 1.1–7 and 10.6–8). Chapter two considers Aristotle's initial account of justice as the whole of virtue and justice as a particular virtue in order to discern the deep connection between justice and happiness (NE 5.1–2). Chapter three looks at the two proper forms of particular justice—distributive justice and corrective justice—and considers how reciprocity is related to these forms (NE 5.3–5). Chapter four turns to the Politics in order to attempt to resolve a problem left open in the discussion of distributive justice in the Nicomachean Ethics concerning the standard of merit (P 3). Finally, chapter five takes up the difficult second half of book five of the Nicomachean Ethics with a view to the question of the motivation of just and unjust human beings (5.6–11). I conclude with a restatement of the critique of justice that emerges and a reconsideration of the second account of happiness on that basis.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Alvarez, Leo Paul de
Commitee: Parens, Joshua, West, Thomas
School: University of Dallas
Department: Politics
School Location: United States -- Texas
Source: DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ethics, Philosophy, Political science
Keywords: Aristotle, Happiness, Justice, Nicomachean Ethics
Publication Number: 3535976
ISBN: 978-1-267-89964-4
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