Ethics By Aristotle Summary and Analysis Book III: Chapter III - Definition of Deliberation

Summary

Besides choice and voluntariness, the other element in moral purpose is deliberation, which is concerned with what is in our power and can be done (i.e., with means, not ends). In the process of deliberation one presupposes a limited end (determined by wish or desire) and tries to find a way to attain this end, working backwards from the end until hitting on a means that can be adopted here and now. The last step in the analysis is the first to be taken in fact. The two limitations on the deliberative process are (a) its end (which may be considered a "first principle" that must be accepted), and (b) one's perception of the actual circumstances.

The objects of deliberation and choice are the same, except that the object of choice is determined on the basis of deliberation. Choice may then be defined as a deliberate desire for things that are in our power, while deliberation tells us what is within our power to choose. The relationship of all these processes can be formulated as follows:

Desire:

I desire A.

Deliberation:

B is the means to A.

C is the means to B.

N is the means to M.

Perception:

N is something I can do here and now.

Choice:

I choose N.

Act:

I do N.

To sum up: (1) Man is the source of all his actions. (2) Deliberation is concerned with things attainable by human action. (3) Actions aim at ends other than themselves (i.e., one cannot deliberate about ends nor about particular facts but only about means to an end).

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