Aristotle: Lesson 1

Who deserves what? Aristotle

Callie Smartt, a wheelchaired bound girl with cerebral palsy, was kicked off the cheerleader squad. Sandel raises 2 questions: question of fairness, and the question of resentment.

?What is Sandel’s hunch for resentment being the reason for Callie being kicked off the team?|the father’s resentment is about Callie “being accorded an honor she doesn’t deserve” because Callie lacks “cheerleading prowess.” (185).

?”If great cheerleading is something that can be done from a wheelchair, then the honor accorded those who excel at tumbles and splits is _________________ to some degree” (185).|depreciated

The other question is about fairness. Is it fair to require Callie to do splits and tumbles if she has cerebral palsy?

?Is the nondiscrimination principle helpful?|no

?Why not?|it begs the question on what it means to be a cheerleader

?”In order to decide what the qualifications should be, we have to decide what’s __________ to cheerleading, and what’s merely incidental” (185).|essential

“She(Callie) had shown that there’s more than one way to be a cheerleader” (185).

“What counts as the purpose of cheerleading depends partly on what virtues you think deserve recognition and reward” (186).

?If firing up the crowd is essential to cheerleading, and doing tumbles and splits incidental, then Callie should be on the cheerleading team. True or False?|True

“What counts as the purpose of cheerleading depends partly on what virtues you think deserve recognition and reward

?If doing tumbles and splits is essential to cheerleading, and if these activities deserve recognition and reward, then Callie shouldn’t be on the team. True or False?|True

?Social practices have instrumental and honorific purposes. What is the instrumental purpose of cheerleading?|cheering the team

?What is the honorific purpose?|celebrating certain excellences and virtues

“These parents(parents who wanted Callie off the team) wanted cheerleading to honor the traditional cheerleader virtues their daughters possessed” (186).

Justice, Telos, and Honor

For Aristotle, justice is teleological and honorific.

?What does telos mean?|the purpose, end, or essential nature

?Again, Aristotle has justice having two main ideas, what are they?|justice is teleological and honorific

?“The key to understanding Aristotle’s ethics and politics is to see the force of these two considerations, and the __________ between them” (187).|relation

?Do modern theories of justice try to separate questions of fairness and rights from arguments about honor, virtue, and moral desert?|yes

“For Aristotle, justice means giving people what they deserve, giving each person his or her due. But what is a person due? What are the relevant grounds of merit or desert? That depends on what’s being distributed. Justice involves two factors: ‘things, and the persons to whom things are assigned.’ And in general we say that ‘persons who are equal should have assigned to them equal things.’

?What two factors does Aristotle have justice depend on?|persons and things

?”Persons who are _______ should have assigned to them __________ things”|equal, equal

?In distributing flutes who should get the best ones according to Aristotle?|the best flute players

?Is Aristotle’s justice discriminatory?|yes

?How so?|Justice discriminates according to merit, according to relevant excellence

?What is the relevant merit in flute playing?|playing the flute well

?Would Aristotle find it just to discriminate flute players according to a lottery or wealth?|no

?Would Aristotle want to give the best flutes to the best people overall?|no

?Why not?|The best flutes should go to the best flute players, not the best people overall

“Many orchestras conduct auditions behind a screen, so that the quality of music can be judged without bias or distraction” (188).

?Assigning flutes to the best flute players will provide the best music, increasing everyone’s utility. Is this the reason for Aristotle to assign flutes to the best flute players?|no

?What is Aristotle’s reason?|the flute’s purpose is to be played well

?What kind of reasoning is this?|teleological

“Aristotle claims that in order to determine the just distribution of a good, we have to inquire into the telos, or purpose, of the good being distributed” (188).

?If we didn’t know what the purpose of flutes were, could we knowingly justly distribute them?|no

?If we held a neutral position on what the purpose of flutes were, could we justly distribute them according to Aristotle?|no

Teleological thinking in the ancient world

“With the advent of modern science, nature ceased to be seen as a meaningful order. Instead, it came to be understood mechanistically, governed by the laws of physics. To explain natural phenomena in terms of purposes, meanings, and ends was now considered naïve and anthropomorphic” (189).

?Is teleological thinking rejected in science?|yes

?Is teleological thinking active in ethics and politics?|yes

What’s the Telos of a University?

Who has the right to be admitted?

?Aristotle said that the purpose of flutes had to be figured out before flutes could be justly distributed. Does this apply also to social institutions such as universities?|yes

?What teleological aspect is brought out in university admissions?|universities existing for either academic excellence or promoting civic goods

“Closely connected to the debate about a university’s purpose is a question about honor: What virtues or excellences do universities properly honor and reward” (191).

?”Arguments about justice and rights are often arguments about the purpose, or telos, of a social institution, which in turn reflect competing notions of the virtues the institution should _____________ and _______________”(191).|honor, reward

?Again, arguments about justice are about what?|the telos of a social institution or good

?Once the telos is figured out, then what’s the next step?|what virtues the institution should honor and reward

?Does Aristotle believe that it’s possible to use reason to figure out the telos of an institution?|yes

?Is figuring out the telos a matter of opinion?|no

?Does it have to be fixed forever?|no

?How does Aristotle answer the question on how one can reason the purpose of a social practice and figure out what virtues should receive honor?|by discussing the purpose of politics

What’s the purpose of politics?

?For Aristotle, was distributive justice mainly about money?|no

?What then was distributive justice mainly about?|offices and honors

?Does Aristotle think that political authority should be equally distributed, one vote one person?|no

Aristotle thinks that all theories of distributive justice discriminates; he wants to figure out what discriminations are just; and to do this, finding the telos of politics is necessary.

?”These days, we don’t think of politics as such as having some particular, substantive end, but as being open to the various ends that citizens may ________” (192).|espouse

?Is Aristotle neutral when it comes to setting up a political framework of rights?|no

“For Aristotle, the purpose of politics is not to set up a framework of rights that is neutral among ends. It is to form good citizens and to cultivate good character” (193).

?What’s the purpose of politics for Aristotle?|to form good citizens and to cultivate good character

?Again, what’s the purpose of politics for Aristotle?|to form good citizens and to cultivate good character

“Aristotle criticizes what he takes to be the two major claimants to political authority – oligarchs and democrats. Each has a claim, he says, but only a partial claim. The oligarchs maintain that they, the wealthy, should rule. The democrats maintain that free birth should be the sole criterion of citizenship and political authority. But both groups exaggerate their claims, because both misconstrue the purpose of political community” (193).

?What are the two major claimants to political authority?|oligarchs and democrats

?By democrats, what does Aristotle mean?|majoritarians

?”Both sides overlook the highest end of political association, which for Aristotle is to ______________ the _____________ of citizens” (193).|cultivate, virtue

?Is the telos of the state to provide an alliance for mutual defense?|no

?Is the telos of the state to ease economic exchange and promote economic intercourse?|no

?What then, is the telos of the state?|learning how to live the good life

?What’s the purpose of politics?| to form good citizens and to cultivate good character

?If the state is indifferent to the moral and civic education of its members, is their association really a polis?|no

?Would Aristotle acknowledge of the usefulness of NATO, NAFTA, and the WTO?|yes

?Would Aristotle think that these organizations amount to true political communities?|no

?”A ________ is not an association for residence on a common site, or for the sake of preventing mutual injustice and easing exchange” (194).|polis

?Are these conditions necessary to a polis?|yes

?Are these conditions sufficient to a polis?|no

?What is the end of the polis?|the good life

?What are the means to the end, the polis?|institutions of social life

?What’s the end?|the good life

?What’s the means?|institutions of the social life

?By institutions of the social life, Aristotle means _____________|political community

?The end of the polis is _________________; the means to the end is the ___________ community|the good life, political

“If the political community exists to promote the good life, what are the implications for the distribution of offices and honors” (194)?

?”Aristotle reasons from the _____________ of the good to the appropriate way of ____________ it” (194).|purpose, distributing

The leaders of the polis should be those who are best at “deliberating about the common good.”

?Leaders of the polis should be the greatest in what?|civic excellence

?Will leaders with the highest civic excellence make everyone better off?|yes

?Is this the only reason for having these leaders in the highest offices?|no

?What else is the end of the polis?|to honor and reward civic virtue

?There are 2 ends to the polis, what are they?|promoting the good life, honoring and rewarding civic virtue

?”According public recognition to those who display civic excellence serves the ____________ role of the good city” (195).|educative

Honoring and rewarding civic virtue is one of the ends of the polis, yet it’s also an educative role, a means, to the good life. This is how “teleological and honorific aspects of the justice go together” (195).