Natural Goals of Actions in Aristotle

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I argue that there are, according to Aristotle, two importantly different kinds of goals or ends in the domain of human agency and that one of these two kinds has been frequently, though not universally, overlooked. Apart from psychological goals, goals that agents adopt as their purposes, there are also, I submit, goals that actions have by being the kinds of actions they are and, in some cases, by occurring in the circumstances in which they do. These latter goals belong to suitable actions whether or not agents adopt them as purposes and whether or not agents are aware of them. There is evidence both in Aristotle's ethical writings and in his discussion of chance and luck in Physics II.4-6 that he recognizes goals of this latter kind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-600
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Philosophical Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • Aristotle
  • ancient philosophy
  • chance
  • ethics
  • goals
  • history of philosophy
  • teleology


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