The Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy Newsletter

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Practical thinking (phronesis) plays a central role in the moral theory presented in the Nicomachean Ethics. It is appealed to in explanations of right action in both the private and public spheres. Human well-being (eudaimonia) depends upon the possession of phronesis. Despite its importance, Aristotle’s account of practical thinking is open to the charge of inadequacy on two major fronts: (1) the cogency of his analysis of moral weakness (akrasia), and (2) the absence of a genuine conceptual niche for phronesis because its work seems to be done by moral virtue, by reasoning well (euboulia) and by wisdom (sophia). In this paper, these difficulties are addressed in order and shown to be less serious than they initially appear.