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The Idea of the Good in John Dewey and Aristotle

1 June 2002


John Dewey looks to the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle for the general outlines of his ethical thought. In his 1932 Ethics, he describes the ethical framework that he shares with Aristotle in terms of knowledge, choice and character: "The formula was well stated by Aristotle. The doer of the moral deed must have a certain 'state of mind' in doing it. First, he must know what he is doing; secondly, he must choose it, and choose it for itself, and thirdly, the act must be the expression of a formed and stable character."1 This paper examines the interaction of these elements within Aristotle's and Dewey's ethical thought. In particular, it discusses the idea of the good as a link between the character virtues and practical deliberation. It will show how this idea of the good that guides practical deliberation is also an expression of one's character virtues.


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