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Creating Waves of Awareness

Aristotle insists that this
is something that no ethical theory can do. His theory elucidates the
nature of virtue, but what must be done on any particular occasion by
a virtuous agent depends on the circumstances, and these vary so much
from one occasion to another that there is no possibility of stating a
series of rules, however complicated, that collectively solve every
practical problem. This feature of ethical theory is not unique;
Aristotle thinks it applies to many crafts, such as medicine and
navigation . He says that the virtuous person “sees
the truth in each case, being as it were a standard and measure of
them” ; but this appeal to the good person's vision
should not be taken to mean that he has an inarticulate and
incommunicable insight into the truth. Aristotle thinks of the good
person as someone who is good at deliberation, and he describes
deliberation as a process of rational inquiry. The intermediate point
that the good person tries to find is “determined by
logos (“reason,” “account”) and in
the way that the person of practical reason would determine it”
. To say that such a person “sees” what to do
is simply a way of registering the point that the good person's
reasoning does succeed in discovering what is best in each
situation. He is “as it were a standard and measure” in
the sense that his views should be regarded as authoritative by other
members of the community. A standard or measure is something that
settles disputes; and because good people are so skilled at
discovering the mean in difficult cases, their advice must be sought
and heeded.

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