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Aristotle & Boethius - Term Paper Example

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Aristotle & Boethius

In this particular area, fear is one of the variables that are considered to result during the time or circumstance when an agent acts or fails to act because of strong feelings. Broadie put this more clearly when she explained the Aristotelian principle about how “fear might prevent the craftsman from functioning properly as a craftsman,” and that “it might hinder his dexterity or warp his judgment in some way; but if we know the situation we shall not assess his skill on the basis of that response” (81). Aristotle’s position is clear – an action driven by fear is excusable - but he put forward a fundamental condition: the perpetrator must not know the consequence of his action or that the outcome of his actions or inactions is unforeseen. This balance is what makes me agree with the philosopher’s point of view. There are instances when fear makes us irrational, clouding our judgments. Mistakes that are made in the process, hence, cannot be considered as guilt-ridden acts as long as it is not deliberate, voluntary and made by choice. Fear In Aristotle’s theory of moral responsibility, there are two specific exceptions that supposedly dilute or diminish a person’s guilt resulting from his actions: ignorance and compulsion. It is this last variable that covered fear. For example, when a person kills another, his action cannot immediately be considered wrongful when a strong emotion has driven him to commit such an act. Since we are talking about the morality of such action, it is, hence, imperative to examine the reasons behind the action. Otherwise, we brand all killings as murders. Aristotle, through his arguments regarding fear, allowed us not only to explain wrongful acts but determine their blameworthiness according to degrees. Morality is not a black and white affair; it is shaped by norms of the time and specific belief systems. During the philosopher’s time, for instance, war was permitted, whereas Christianity made us think it as morally unacceptable. The point is that there are many variables that must be included in the moral evaluation of an act. Factors like fear figure prominently in this discourse because they are valid and legitimate contributors to the way humans act. It compels us to act, making the process involuntary. If fear drove one to jump off a roof, for instance, killing another in the process, would we condemn him for taking another’s life? Emotional compulsions form part of the inherent characteristic of man as a rational and emotional being, and having them rejected defeats the very purpose of moral evaluation. According to Spain, “a person acting under compulsion is unable to exercise physical control over his or her bodily movement, in other words, is not free to act,” and that it “provides the basis for claims of exculpation contesting authorship-responsibility and, hence, indirectly, moral responsibility” (30). This explains how I can say that if I am overcome by an overwhelming fear; I will be incapacitated because it reduces my agential power to choose. Here, it is clear that my freedom is diminished and, hence, my moral responsibility as well. Indirect responsibility or partial excuse for actions is a very important factor why I agree with Aristotle. I think it agrees with the utilitarian approach to punishment as against those obsess on the action and not ...Show more


Why does Aristotle think that actions done out of fear might be excused but not actions done from some other kind of response? For Aristotle, the actions that are committed as a result of some emotional excitement, especially fear, are considered as not unlike a physical handicap that eventually excuse the actor from any culpability…
Author : millermay
Aristotle & Boethius essay example
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