Free Will in the Nicomachean Ethics

30 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 6 Apr 2010


Contained in the initial chapters of Book 3 of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is one of the most complete accounts of the difference between voluntary and involuntary action in all of ancient philosophy. Ultimately, Aristotle agrees with Plato that wrong action can be attributed to a failure in education, and that free will, understood as the deliberate choosing of good or bad action, does not exist. This conclusion, however, is not made explicitly, which is why this paper relies on a close reading of Chapters 1-5 of Book 3 to unearth Aristotle's final account of the differences between voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary action.

Suggested Citation

Eberhardt, Lindsay, Free Will in the Nicomachean Ethics. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN:

Lindsay Eberhardt (Contact Author)

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