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Aristotle on Practical Truth$
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Christiana Olfert

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190281007

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190281007.001.0001

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Aristotle’s Conception of Practical Truth

Aristotle’s Conception of Practical Truth

(p.79) Chapter 3 Aristotle’s Conception of Practical Truth
Aristotle on Practical Truth

C. M. M. Olfert

Oxford University Press

Aristotle’s notion of practical truth is important to his view of practical reasoning as being, at once, both rational and practical. But what is practical truth? I argue for an original interpretation according to which practical truth is the truth about what is unqualifiedly good for someone, but can be otherwise. This interpretation has two advantages. First, it allows practical truth to fall within Aristotle’s standard account of truth. Second, it explains the sense in which practical truth is distinctly practical: according to Aristotle, what we take to be (truly) unqualifiedly good for ourselves motivates us to act. Practical reasoning is then defined as the distinctive kind of reasoning that is concerned with this distinctly practical kind of truth. Understood in this way, practical truth is far from a mysterious and marginal part of Aristotle’s ethical theory. It plays an ineliminable and central role in his account of practical reasoning.

Keywords:   Aristotle, ethics, action, practical truth, practical reason, Nicomachean Ethics, truth, reason

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