Moral philosophy (ethics) AQA Unit 2





  • Aristotle had a teleological worldview: everything has a goal/aim

  • Empiricist

  • Focus on what it is to be an agent - the teleological view links to consequentialism (and utilitarianism)


  • Plato argued that pleasure is not part of the good life, sensual , soul consists of reason and appetite and spirit, eudoxus believes in hedonism and state pleasure is the supreme good. Aristotle argues that this is not the case

  • All humans aim for the supreme good, this is called eudaimonia, this consists of a good spirit that guides us through life, it can be understood as flourishing. The criteria is:

               1.The final end

               2.Self sufficient


               4.Related to us humans

  • Eudaimonia is a contemplative pleasure

  • Aristotle gives his methodology in order to give a full account of what eudaimonia is , this involves finding its function


  • To say happiness is the supreme good is vague and some more distinct account of it is still required, this might perhaps be achieved by grasping what is the function of a man

  • Goodness is associated with functions e.g what type of life we should be leading, whether or not we fulfill our function well, overall goodness for a human (how we flourish)

  • Need to fulfill our function well to lead the good life (achieve overall goodness), these functions map out what it is and isn’t to be moral/ethical

  • Aristotle thinks people have functions because

    • People with different occupations have a function which suggests that people as a whole have one

    • Different parts of the body have different functions so its not unreasonable to suppose a whole human has one

  • Our unique function has human beings is reason

  • The function of a man is activity of the soul which follows or implies a rational principle

  • Our function is determined by the kind of soul we have , humans have a rational soul , our function is to exercise the rational part of our soul

  • The analogy between occupation/body parts and what it is to be a human is weak, might just be expressing teleological worldview

  • Fallacy of composition - does not mean the whole has common feature



  • Voluntary actions are a result of choice/decision making which is closely related to virtue. Choice involves deliberation which is concerned with what’s in our power and what can be done. You choose and then act after you have wished for something and then deliberated on it

  • Voluntary actions reveal dispositions, intentions , desires and your moral character e.g opening a door for someone who has their hands full of textbooks

  • Criticism: in what sense are acts that have not been deliberated upon moral? Animals and children are not part of the moral sphere because they do not deliberate upon their actions but adults that do not deliberate would also not be morally responsible e.g a child runs in front of the road and an adult


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