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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Aristotle's Ethics (PHIL10205)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course will introduce the main themes of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, considering his views in detail, and also exploring them in relation to their context in ancient thought and their impact on later thought.

Course description The course will be based on a systematic coverage of the main themes of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Topics discussed will include the human good, moral and intellectual virtues, responsibility, pleasure, friendship, and the place of philosophy in the good life. The relation of Aristotle's views to those of other ancient philosophers will be discussed. The impact of ancient ethical theories on later thought will also be considered.

Provisional list of topics:

Week 1. Introduction; Aristotle's aim and methods in the Ethics: the human good; the concept of happiness.
Nicomachean Ethics. I.1-5 and first part of 7. (See also X.9.)

Week 2. The human good (continued); the human function; the concept of virtue; external goods.
Nicomachean Ethics I, especially chapters 7 (second part), 8-10, 13.

Week 3. Ethical virtue and the doctrine of the mean.
Nicomachean Ethics II, and III. 6-9.; see also III.10-12 and IV.

Week 4. The voluntary, choice, responsibility.
Nicomachean Ethics III.1-5.

Week 5. Justice.
Nicomachean Ethics V, especially chapters 1-4, final paragraph of 5, 6-9, 11.

Week 6. Intellectual virtue and practical reasoning.
Nicomachean Ethics VI, especially chapters 1-8, 11-13.

Week 7. Akrasia (lack of self-control).
Nicomachean Ethics VII chapters 1-10, especially 1-3, final paragraph of 7, 8.

Week 8. Pleasure.
Nicomachean Ethics VII, 11-14, and X. 1-5.

Week 9. Friendship.
Nicomachean Ethics VIII and IX, especially VIII.1-8. IX.4-9, 12.

Week 10. Contemplation; philosophy and the good life.
Nicomachean Ethics X. 6-8.

Week 11. The impact of ancient ethics on modern thought
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) AND Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) and Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08014). However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of major issues in Aristotle's ethical theory
  2. Critically review how these issues relate to contemporary debates
  3. Read closely, analyse and criticise ancient philosophical texts
Reading List
Primary reading: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics; available in various editions including:
Crisp, Roger. Nicomachean Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Rowe, Christopher. Nicomachean Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. (With introduction and commentary by Sarah Broadie.)

Recommended secondary reading:
D.S. Hutchinson. 'Ethics' in J. Barnes, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle.
J. Annas, The Morality of Happiness.
T. Irwin, The Development of Ethics (vol. 1).
G. Hughes, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Aristotle on Ethics.
D. Bostock, Aristotle's Ethics.
S. Broadie, Ethics with Aristotle.
A.O. Rorty, ed. Essays on Aristotle's Ethics.
R. Kraut, ed. The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle's Ethics.
L.P. Gerson, ed. Aristotle: Critical Assessments, vol. 3.
G. Anagnostopoulos, ed. A Companion to Aristotle
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Mindsets: Enquiry and Lifelong Learning
Skills: Research and Enquiry, Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Andrew Mason
Course secretaryMiss Ann-Marie Cowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 3961
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