The University of Utah Philosophy Department Colloquium Series
University of Colorado at Boulder
Friday, November 16th
3:00 – 5:00
Tanner Library, Room 459
“Greed and Justice in Aristotle’s Ethics”
Abstract: Aristotle’s account of the virtue of justice has been criticized on the grounds that Aristotle gives an overly tidy minded picture of what just and unjust motivation look like, and reduces them to a single kind, namely, greed or lack thereof. I attempt to develop a defense of Aristotle’s account of justice, by arguing that what Aristotle means by ‘greed’ (pleonexia) is not simply excessive desire, but a complex motivational state that includes characteristic desires and beliefs about oneself and one’s proper relation to others, and that it is fundamentally a social disposition, not a simple emotion or desire, as is usually thought. The opposite of the greedy person is the isos or ‘fair-minded’ person—someone whose desires and beliefs reflect a correct perception of what his or anyone else’s fair share of some social good ought to be.