Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

what does Aristotle see as the two types of involuntary actions?

What is a "mixed" action and are we responsible for mixed actions?

Asked by
Last updated by jill d #170087
Answers 1
Add Yours

Involuntary Actions - an act done a) under compulsion or b) through ignorance when the agent does not understand the particular circumstances involved and is pained and sorry afterwards

A. Under Compulsion - cause lies outside the agent and agent contributes nothing to the action. Example: being carried away by a whirlwind or kidnappers it was impossible to resist - compulsion painful, not pleasant or noble.

B. Through Ignorance of Particular Circumstances. Example: talking about a subject not known to be forbidden, catapult discharged by mistake, mistake son for enemy or sharp spear for blunt one, killing a man with a drug intended to save him.

Those ignorant of particulars act involuntarily through ignorance of:

1) doer

2) deed

3) "object or person affected by it"

4) "wherewith(e.g. instrument with which) it is done"

5) "that for the sake of which it is done (e.g. protection)"

6) "way in which it is done (e.g. gently or violently)" (3.1, Solomon, 98)

Mixed action is related to Compulsion. It is an action that is more voluntary than involuntary, it's desired and chosen at the time it's performed, and it's involuntary in itself but voluntary in preference to given alternative. Example: tyrant orders you to do something disgraceful while holding your family and threatening to kill them if you do not do it. Are we responsible for these actions? Yes, I think we are. These actions are definitely a choice, although we nay see them as something we have to do and have no control over. Nonetheless, we'd still have the choice, albeit one that our conscience will dictate rather than our virtue.