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Extra resources for Aristotle's ethical imprecision: Philosophic method in the Nicomachean Ethics
Furthermore, I note that whereas Nussbaum portrays Socrates as one committed to the art that would measure pleasures in order to "save our lives" (365d-e; Fragility of Goodness, 99), Socrates ends the dialogue by telling us exactly what it is he will do "for the sake of [his] own life as a whole" (36 Id), and it is not to calculate pleasures but to engage in philosophic discussion regarding things such as virtue, to persist in the serpentine, seemingly hopeless, philosophic inquiry that Protagoras abandons (36le).
41 One would speak adequately [hikanos] if one were to attain the clarity [diasaphetheie] that goes along with the underlying material [hupokeimenen hulen], for precision [to akribes] should not be sought in the same way in all kinds of discourse, any more than in things made by the [various kinds of] craftsmen. The things that are noble and just [ta kala kai ta dikaia], about which politics investigates, involve great disagreement9 [diaphoran] and inconsistency10 [planen], so that they are thought to belong only to convention and not to nature.
The imprecision of general claims as to what should be done, made irrespective of the relevant particular circumstances. 3 Imprecision thus covers ethical accounts in a quite broad and far-reaching way. It is this general imprecision that is most 1. The tendency to limit Aristotle's idea of ethical imprecision to the particular is seen, for example, in August Bayonas' "Exactness and Scientific Thought According to Aristotle" in Aristotle and Contemporary Science, Volume II, eds. Sfendoni-Mentzou andDemetra (New York: Lang, 2001), 130— 36, at 134-35; C.