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Aristotle on the Perfect Life$
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Anthony Kenny

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198240174

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198240174.001.0001

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Moral Luck

Moral Luck

(p.76) 6 Moral Luck
Aristotle on the Perfect Life

Anthony Kenny

Oxford University Press

Aristotle's discussion of luck and fortune in his ethical treatises addresses some of the same issues; but the overlap is not complete, and there are important differences of approach. Aristotle's interest in moral luck is primarily an interest in moral good luck; he wants to know what contribution, if any, fortune makes to moral excellence, to wellbeing, and to happiness. There is no doubt, however, that what comes from nature is not in our power; and this implies that human beings, prior to any voluntary desert, have unequal chances of achieving happiness. Furthermore, Aristotelian morality is explicitly non-egalitarian: the great-souled man needs wealth and power to display the greatness of his soul. Christianity is often contrasted with this: the poor are equal citizens of the Kingdom of God, and the widow's mite counts as much as the munificence of the rich.

Keywords:   luck, fortune, moral luck, happiness, Christianity, Aristotle, non-egalitarian

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