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Aristotle and Rationalism By: Noorain, Sonya, Pooneh.

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1 Aristotle and Rationalism By: Noorain, Sonya, Pooneh

2 Who was Aristotle? Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist whose work has been extremely important to the development of both western philosophy and western theology. Much of his theories can be seen as drawn from Plato’s teaching, but he was more practical than Plato in many respects. Aristotle concerned himself more with how philosophy applied to subjects like writing, the arts, science, and logic where as he advocates science through reason rather than observation.

3 Philosophies by Aristotle “Man is by nature a political animal.”

4 Aristotle and politics With regards to politics, Aristotle argued that humans are, by nature, political animals. This means that humans are also social animals and that any understanding of human behavior and human needs must include social considerations. He also investigated the merits of various kinds of political systems, describing their different virtues and vices. Aristotle distinguishes between good and bad forms of ruling, whether it be rule by one, a few, or many. For him, democracy is not the best form of government. His classification system of monarchies, oligarchies, tyrannies, democracies and republics is still used today.

5 Aristotle’s Theories

6 The Aristotelian theory of responsibility Action is produced by agents and is done either voluntarily or involuntarily. An agent has acted involuntary if and only if the action is caused by external force or by ignorance. All other actions are deemed to fall within the class of voluntarily acts, including mixed cases, spurs and passions of the moment, and actions done by children and beasts. Moral responsibility only attaches to voluntary actions but not all voluntary actions. We don’t, after all, hold children and animals to be morally responsible for their actions. For Aristotle, being capable of rational deliberation is a necessary and sufficient condition for moral responsibility.

7 The M’Naghten Rule The M’Naghten rule is that an agent is not blameworthy for an act due to insanity if, at the time of the act, he did not know what he was doing, or did not know that what he was doing was wrong.

8 Voluntary Vs. Involuntary An example of ignorance of a particular is where an agent leisurely shoots a handgun at a bush not knowing that a man is sleeping behind the bush, leading to his death. Upon knowing what has happened, if the agent expresses pain and regret at what has transpired it is clear that his action was not voluntary but, rather, caused by ignorance of the particular fact that a person was behind the bush. However, if the agent knew that a man was sleeping behind the bush (i.e. not ignorant of that particular fact) but was ignorant of the universal moral principle that killing an innocent is morally wrong then if he went ahead anyway and shot at the bush killing the man his action would be deemed to be voluntary. These two criteria – ignorance of what one is doing and ignorance that what one is doing is wrong parallel Aristotle’s distinction between ignorance of a particular and ignorance of the universal moral principle.

9 Common law defence of insanity and Aristotelian theory With Aristotle’s theory broadly sketched out we can now turn our attention to the common law defence of insanity and flesh out Aristotle’s theory in relation to this. There are some conceptual problems comparing Aristotle’s moral theory with the common law. Insanity is defined legally, not medically. So, sleepwalking, for example, is classified as insane in law, even though medically it is not considered insane. Indeed, many concepts in common law are legally defined rather than morally defined; for example, in the M’Naghten Rule (below), not knowing that something is wrong is understood in the legal sense of not knowing it was illegal. Therefore, in order to facilitate a common basis for comparison, criminal responsibility shall be understood as blameworthiness, crimes as actions, and wrongdoing understood in its moral sense.

10 Strengths and Weaknesses Strengths Punishments are used as deterrents to regulate society Law forces people to live according to reason rather than passion Individuals unaware of their actions are held less accountable because they lack intention Weakness It is difficult to base law on morals since morals vary from person to person Conflict within society due to religious backgrounds

11 Thank You For Your Time!

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