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Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Fall 2006

GK 390 • Ancient Virtue Ethics

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
32935 TH
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
CBA 4.336
White, S

Course Description

Virtue ethics illustrates how contemporary debates can interact fruitfully with historical scholarship. Renewed interest in virtue today owes much to ancient discussions, and those in turn have been illuminated by ongoing debates. The general aim of the seminar is to continue this fertile dialogue. More narrowly, the main method and means to that end will be close study of some seminal ancient texts; and our study will be informed by work in both ancient and modern ethics. After some preliminary scene-setting at a necessarily stratospheric altitude, the seminar will focus on three classic discussions of virtue: Plato's Protagoras, Aristotles Nicomachean Ethics, and Ciceros On Duties. Two interlocking questions will loom large. One is conceptual: What is a virtue, or at least what do these ancient theories take, whether explicitly or implicitly, virtue/s to be? In particular, what distinctive attitudes, capacities, motives, etc. are virtuous people supposed to have? The other is normative: What value do these theories assign virtue/s? In particular, do any virtues have intrinsic value, or is their value largely or entirely derivative, dependent on their contribution to some otherwise determined good or goods? A "satellite group" (optional for PH 381, required for GK 390) will meet weekly to read passages in Greek. Requirements: 3 short papers, 1-2 oral presentation(s), a research paper


Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (tr. Rowe) Cicero, On Duties(tr. Atkins) Plato, Protagoras (tr. Taylor) B. Inwood and L. Gerson, Hellenistic Philosophy (2d ed.) Optional Greek text: Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (ed. Bywater)


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