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duty and character - larvatus prodeo — LiveJournal
August 8th, 2008
12:39 am

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duty and character
It is well understood that duty cannot defer to passion. Actions that defer to passions, can at best proceed in accordance with duty. Such deference preempts the possibility of acting from duty. It is equally certain that duty cannot defer to orientation, construed as a certain regularity in passions. Nor can it defer to outlook, construed as a cohesive diachronic account of passions. For regularity and cohesion add nothing principled to the mix. But by the same token, it is far from clear that duty is independent of character, construed as a cohesive diachronic organizing principle of passions and constituent motive of actions.

Assuming these definitions, is there a coherent notion of acting from duty that makes it coextensive with acting from character?

Update: I mean to ask a basic question. Actions that proceed from passion are by definition teleological. They aim to cure a lack. This aim preempts their capacity for answering to principle regardless of anticipated outcomes. By contrast, answerability to principle is a general condition of modern deontology, as distinct e.g. from its classical theological construal in the manner of Augustine’s “Dilige, et quod vis fac.” On the other hand, by making allowances for supererogation, even the deontologist leaves room for accommodating diverse norms of character. (Here I am construing character broadly, as ἦθος rather than ἕξις.) So the duty in regard to a certain course of action may be perfect or imperfect, depending on its mandate by the agent’s character. Thus even in the absence of a conflict of duties, it is possible to accommodate individual differences of principle.

Crossposted to [info]larvatus and [info]real_philosophy.

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From:dennett
Date:August 8th, 2008 01:00 pm (UTC)
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ну это если только забыть о возможности самовоспитания.
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From:larvatus
Date:August 9th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
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How does the possibility of self-discipline make any difference to character as ethos?
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From:dennett
Date:August 9th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
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характер, при условии возможности самовоспитания, есть не просто пассивная конфигурация страстей, а результат этического - в общем случае, рационального - самооформления. страсти, не прекращая действовать, направляются в нужное русло.

франкфурт, к примеру, вслед за аристотелем, считает тех, у кого работы над страстями нет, распущенными - wanton
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From:larvatus
Date:August 9th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
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I spoke too glibly. Character as ethos is a product of self-discipline, to the extent that it is practiced by the individual. So my formulation assumes taking it synchronically, as a given result of diachronic development.

I would like to see where Aristotle anticipates Frankfurt’s definition of second order volitions. For my part, I understand it as a modern notion dating back to Blaise Pascal and Joseph de Maistre.
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From:dennett
Date:August 9th, 2008 04:45 pm (UTC)
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В никомаховой этике - о неестественности добродетелей, self-indulgence - и воспитании.
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From:larvatus
Date:August 9th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC)
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Frankfurt’s definition of second order volitions arises in the service of his compatibilist conception of free will. Under his analysis an individual has free will if and only if he meets the following conditions:
  1. he has certain second-order volitions;
  2. he has no first-order volitions that are discordant with his actual second-order volitions;
  3. he has those and only those first-order volitions that have been, directly or indirectly, produced by his actual second-order volitions.
By contrast, Aristotle is a libertarian. In Book III of Nicomachean Ethics, he locates the origin of the agent’s actions within him, and stipulates that it is up to him to do them or not to do them. Within this framework, his ideas of cultivating virtue and avoiding self-indulgence cannot carry the weight of anticipating distinctions in the orders of desires and volitions.
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From:dennett
Date:August 9th, 2008 11:14 pm (UTC)
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Франкфурт свой компатибилизм заявил очень давно, в конце шестидесятых. Это особый аргумент, в отношении вопроса о could have done & did. Сейчас его это мало волнует - он совершенно не упоминает об этом в своих последних книгах. Second-order volitions его действительно занимают - но за этим темином, если почитать сами тексты Франкфурта стоит работа над собой. Идея там очень проста - у меня есть желания, но у меня есть также возможность занять определенную позицию по отношению к этим желаниям. К примеру, если у меня есть агрессивные инстинкты, то у меня, если я нормален и вменяем, есть выбор - либо им поддаться, либо объявить их нон-грата - подавлять их всеми способами, тренируя себя. Франкфурт пишет о работе над собой. Его second-order volitions потому и являются волевыми актами второго уровня, что направлены на волевые акты первого уровня - я не хочу желать того-то и того-то, а хочу желать того-то и того-то - и действую, воспитывая себя так, чтобы у меня были нужные желания.

О том же самом говорит Аристотель, излагая теорию страстей и характера - он говорит о том, каков должен быть человек, каков должен быть его характер - золотая середина, великодушие etc. - все это хорошо известно - говорит также о том, что от природы это не дается - природа дает человеку случайные желания, случайную силу и конфигурацию страстей и добродетелей - и далее человек воспитывается - и воспитывает себя - upbringing, training - таким образом, чтобы стать великодушным человеком - чтобы достичь magnanimity - т.е. стать таким человеком, желания, эмоции, интересы которого сконфигурированы правильно.

Сходствo А и Ф в этом отношении упоминалось много раз.

У них конечно есть и кардинальные различия - например их теории блага и места этики.
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From:larvatus
Date:August 10th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
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Any philosophical position can be linked to Aristotle in his capacity of the first notable footnoter of Plato. In the event, this connection founders on the more proximate and better acknowledged predecessors of Frankfurt such as Descartes and Spinoza. Hence the abiding relevance of compatibilism via necessitarianism implied by the principle of sufficient reason.

Incidentally, indices absent from Frankfurt’s books can be emulated via the Amazon “Search Inside” function.

To clarify my question, actions that proceed from passion are by definition teleological. They aim to cure a lack. This aim preempts their capacity for answering to principle regardless of anticipated outcomes. By contrast, answerability to principle is a general condition of modern deontology, as distinct e.g. from its classical theological construal in the manner of Augustine’s “Dilige, et quod vis fac.” On the other hand, by making allowances for supererogation, even the deontologist leaves room for accommodating diverse norms of character. (Here I am construing character broadly, as ἦθος rather than ἕξις.) So the duty in regard to a certain course of action may be perfect or imperfect, depending on its mandate by the agent’s character. Thus even in the absence of a conflict of duties, it is possible to accommodate individual differences of principle. I am interested in learning whether or not more substantive accommodations of character are available within deontology.
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