Is Aristotle's Account of Incontinence Inconsistent?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Terrance C. McConnell, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Included among the many topics on which Aristotle writes in the Nicomachean Ethics is an account of incontinence or akrasia. Many controversies have arisen among interpreters of Aristotle on this issue, and a few of these disputes will be discussed in this paper. In the first part of this paper I shall indicate the usual way of reading Aristotle's account of incontinence, which I shall call the natural interpretation. In the second section I shall raise some apparent difficulties with the natural interpretation by pointing out three passages in the Nicomachean Ethics which seem to be inconsistent with it. Finally, in the concluding three sections of this paper I shall argue that the three passages allegedly inconsistent with the natural interpretation can be shown to be consistent with the general line of argument that the natural interpretation takes Aristotle to be following. In showing how these passages can be reconciled with the usual way of reading Aristotle's account of akrasia, a much clearer and more complete picture of what his view is emerges. In addition, this reading makes Aristotle's account of incontinence more philosophically acceptable – though it is not without its problems — than it is normally supposed to be.

Additional Information

McConnell, Terrance. ?Is Aristotle’s Account of Incontinence Inconsistent?? Canadian Journal of Philosophy IV(4) (June 1975), pp. 635-651.
Language: English
Date: 1975

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