Here is an issue that I thought of today as I was preparing for my class on Aristotle’s ethics. I thought I knew the answer, but after having thought about it a bit I am not sure, so I’ll ask you.
Suppose that you accepted Aristotle’s claim that there are somethings which are always wrong, like theft, murder, and adultery while with everything else the right action is that action which a virtuous person would perform. If we assume the standard interpretation of what this means then we end up with the view that the virtuous person is able to determine, or see, what the virtuous action is in the given situation they find themselves in. Does this mean, then, that Aristotle is committed to the claim that it is impossible that there could ever be a situation in which a virtuous person determined that theft was the proper action? A (seemingly) obvious counter-example would be the ‘looters’ in New Orleans who were taking bread and other supplies from a local store. Whatever one thinks about that, it seems possible that a virtuous person would act this way in some situation. Does anyone know of anyplace where this is discussed in the literature (or have any thoughts about what Aristotle is committed to here)?