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Unit information: Philosophical Text 3: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics in 2015/16

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Unit name Philosophical Text 3: Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
Unit code PHIL10008
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Pearson
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The course will consider key parts of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and engage with them philosophically. Topics covered will include eudaimonia, moral psychology, virtue, the doctrine of the mean, voluntary action and choice, courage, temperance, practical wisdom, akrasia, varieties of friendship, contemplation.


The unit aims to bring to life a seminal text in ancient philosophy by engaging critically with its arguments. The unit aims to establish this work as philosophically interesting in its own right and of interest to contemporary philosophers.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On completion of this course, students will:

  • have a thorough knowledge of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
  • be familiar with some key secondary literature on this text, and be able to engage critically with it
  • be able to engage critically with Aristotle's positions and arguments
  • be in a position to relate some key ideas in this text to modern philosophical debates

Teaching Information

x10 weekly lectures, student participation to be encouraged

Assessment Information

Examination only; 2 questions in two hours.

Reading and References


  • Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics, translated by David Ross, revised by J. L. Ackrill and J. O. Urmson. (OUP, 1998) (in the Oxford Worlds Classics series)
  • S. Broadie and C. Rowe, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (OUP, 2002). [this text also includes a valuable introduction and commentary]

Two introductions:

  • J. O. Urmson, Aristotle's Ethics (Blackwell, 1988).
  • M. Pakaluk, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: An Introduction (CUP, 2005).

And two valuable collections of essays are:

  • A. O. Rorty (ed.), Essays on Aristotle's Ethics (University of California Press, 1980).
  • R. Kraut (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Blackwell, 2006).