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Levels of ArgumentA Comparative Study of Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics$
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Dominic Scott

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199249640

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199249640.001.0001

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The Limits of Precision

The Limits of Precision

(p.123) 7 The Limits of Precision
Levels of Argument

Dominic Scott

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Aristotle’s views about the level of precision appropriate to political science. In the Republic we should ideally set no limits to the quest for precision, whereas Aristotle explicitly limits its pursuit. Through a careful examination of the relevant texts, this chapter shows that he imposes two quite different methodological constraints regarding precision: one concerns the amount of detailed practical prescription he is prepared to give in the work; the other concerns the amount of theoretical precision appropriate to political science. Here, he stakes out a very different position from the Republic: although he admits the possibility of attaining more theoretical precision in political science, he counsels against doing so. The chapter pays special attention to the ‘function’ argument of NE I 7, arguing against interpretations that require us to read it in the light of other texts such as the Physics, De Anima, and the Metaphysics.

Keywords:   philosophical method, political science, precision, function argument, phronesis, scientific demonstration

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