In this paper I aim to explore the points of contact and divergence between two authors who have extensively reflected on the extent of an ethical “feeling” that would call the agent to a more precise awareness of the role of the emotional motions underlying decisions and character formation. In what makes an agent, in short, a person. In this sense, I intend to compare the normative and procedural significance of character and emotions in moral evaluation by comparing the theses of Martha Nussbaum and Bernard Williams. A relationship between the two positions will be highlighted in order to support, on these results, a normative justification of the use of moral inclinations as means of justice promoted by political communities.
In this paper, I aim to explore part of a debate within neo-Aristotelian naturalism that questions the possibility of reconciling the theses that (i) the agent is the source of normativity and (ii) moral goodness is related to facts about human nature. Considering a literature that rethinks first nature no longer as a set of needs or impulses in some way devoid of rationality, we will try to show how it is possible to understand such a reality as a set of inclinations which, in the intertwining with the faculties of human beings, influences action. In doing this, the case of the inclination to self-preservation will serve as a paradigmatic example to understand how the first nature can place normative constraints on practical reason, orienting the agent towards the development of its nature.
In this paper I aim to explore the relationship between teleology and normativity at the intersection of neo-Aristotelian naturalism and constitutivism. First, I show how the two theories rest normativity on a relationship between function (the Aristotelian ergon) and practical reason, paradoxically failing in similar ways to convincingly articulate that relationship. Then, I expose three proposals for mediating between the two poles that converge on a better synthesis between the two competing poles, while not entirely dispelling the suspicion that the hiatus between ergon and practical reason is to some extent irreducible.
How and why does a being’s nature relate to what is good for it? Thomas Aquinas provides an account such that a being’s nature endows it with powers and natural inclinations – tendencies, strivings, directednesses – for the very goods that constitute a flourishing life for beings of that nature. In this essay, I aim to present, elucidate, and motivate Aquinas’s rich and nuanced thought on natural inclinations and how it illuminates some of his key views in metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, and ethics. I first provide the background in Aquinas’s philosophical psychology and metaphysics, including his natural theology. Next, I take up the objection that evolutionary theory renders Aquinas’s thought on these matters obsolete. I then consider the natural inclinations of human beings, and specifically how these natural inclinations relate to practical cognition of basic goods and precepts.