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Nicomachean Ethics   

deliberate desire of things in our own power; for when we have decided
as a result of deliberation, we desire in accordance with our
We may take it, then, that we have described choice in outline, and
stated the nature of its objects and the fact that it is concerned
with means.
That wish is for the end has already been stated; some think it is for
the good, others for the apparent good. Now those who say that the
good is the object of wish must admit in consequence that that which
the man who does not choose aright wishes for is not an object of wish
(for if it is to be so, it must also be good; but it was, if it so
happened, bad); while those who say the apparent good is the object of
wish must admit that there is no natural object of wish, but only what
seems good to each man. Now different things appear good to different
people, and, if it so happens, even contrary things.
If these consequences are unpleasing, are we to say that absolutely
and in truth the good is the object of wish, but for each person the
apparent good; that that which is in truth an object of wish is an
object of wish to the good man, while any chance thing may be so the
bad man, as in the case of bodies also the things that are in truth
wholesome are wholesome for bodies which are in good condition, while
for those that are diseased other things are wholesome- or bitter or
sweet or hot or heavy, and so on; since the good man judges each class
of things rightly, and in each the truth appears to him? For each
state of character has its own ideas of the noble and the pleasant,
and perhaps the good man differs from others most by seeing the truth
in each class of things, being as it were the norm and measure of
them. In most things the error seems to be due to pleasure; for it
appears a good when it is not. We therefore choose the pleasant as a
good, and avoid pain as an evil.
The end, then, being what we wish for, the means what we deliberate
about and choose, actions concerning means must be according to choice
and voluntary. Now the exercise of the virtues is concerned with
means. Therefore virtue also is in our own power, and so too vice. For
where it is in our power to act it is also in our power not to act,
and vice versa; so that, if to act, where this is noble, is in our
power, not to act, which will be base, will also be in our power, and
if not to act, where this is noble, is in our power, to act, which
will be base, will also be in our power. Now if it is in our power to
do noble or base acts, and likewise in our power not to do them, and
this was what being good or bad meant, then it is in our power to be
virtuous or vicious.
The saying that 'no one is voluntarily wicked nor involuntarily happy'
seems to be partly false and partly true; for no one is involuntarily
happy, but wickedness is voluntary. Or else we shall have to dispute
what has just been said, at any rate, and deny that man is a moving
principle or begetter of his actions as of children. But if these
facts are evident and we cannot refer actions to moving principles
other than those in ourselves, the acts whose moving principles are in
us must themselves also be in our power and voluntary.
Witness seems to be borne to this both by individuals in their private
capacity and by legislators themselves; for these punish and take
vengeance on those who do wicked acts (unless they have acted under
compulsion or as a result of ignorance for which they are not
themselves responsible), while they honour those who do noble acts, as
though they meant to encourage the latter and deter the former. But no
one is encouraged to do the things that are neither in our power nor
voluntary; it is assumed that there is no gain in being persuaded not
to be hot or in pain or hungry or the like, since we shall experience
these feelings none the less. Indeed, we punish a man for his very
ignorance, if he is thought responsible for the ignorance, as when
penalties are doubled in the case of drunkenness; for the moving

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