Listening to Reason in Plato and Aristotle

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2022.09.03 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Dominic Scott, Listening to Reason in Plato and Aristotle, Oxford University Press, 2020, 268pp., $85.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780198863328.

Reviewed by Chris Bobonich, Stanford University

Both the Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics suggest that not all people are capable of benefiting from rational ethical arguments. In this excellent book, Dominic Scott carefully examines both works to try to clarify Plato’s and Aristotle’s views and their reasons for them. He remains focused on the Republic and the Nicomachean Ethics, but occasionally draws on Plato’s Laws as well as Aristotle’s Politics and Rhetoric.

Scott’s guiding question is: how many people did Plato and Aristotle believe ‘could be reasoned into valuing moral virtue [for itself]’ (2)? (The moral/non-moral distinction is Scott’s. I don’t think that he characterizes it clearly and I would not myself talk of ‘morality’ when discussing ancient ethics.) I’ll first discuss Scott’s treatment of Plato and…

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