Measure and Exemplar: Moral Exemplarity in Aristotle’s Ethics

Author/s Pierre-­Marie Morel
Publishing Year 2023 Issue 2023/1 Language French
Pages 14 P. 11-24 File size 139 KB
DOI 10.3280/SF2023-001002
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In this article, it is argued that: 1) Aristotle’s use of moral exemplars is not a mere practical empiricism;; 2) moral exemplarity counts as a legitimate tool for practical knowledge. At first glance, the moral exemplar looks like a mere empirical substitute for a scientific knowledge of the Good, which, strictly speaking, would be impossible. In that respect, the exemplar looks like a particular case, by contrast with real practical norms. Consequently, Aristotle’s exemplarism seems, at best, to lead to a sort of relativistic particularism. However, Aristotle’s use of examples and exemplars have a significant part in moral conduct, where the virtuous person stands for the human standard of good action. Moreover, Aristotle puts the emphasis on the notion of "measure" (metron). By doing so, he constructs a consistent conception of moral exemplarity. The wise person is the ‘measure’ of moral conduct, and this means that he is neither an absolute model to be imitated, nor a mere particular case to be consider.

Keywords: Aristotle’s Ethics, Measure, Relativism, Particularism, Practical wisdom, Exemplar.

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Pierre-­Marie Morel, La mesure et l’exemple: l’exemplarité morale dans l’éthique d’Aristote in "RIVISTA DI STORIA DELLA FILOSOFIA" 1/2023, pp 11-24, DOI: 10.3280/SF2023-001002