Necessity, Cause and Blame: Perspectives on Aristotle's Theory

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Overview

A discussion of Aristotle’s thought on determinism and culpability, Necessity, Cause, and Blame also reveals Richard Sorabji’s own philosophical commitments. He makes the original argument here that Aristotle separates the notions of necessity and cause, rejecting both the idea that all events are necessarily determined as well as the idea that a non-necessitated event must also be non-caused. In support of this argument, Sorabji engages in a wide-ranging discussion of explanation, time, free will, essence, and purpose in nature. He also provides historical perspective, arguing that these problems remain intimately bound up with modern controversies.
 
Necessity, Cause and Blame would be counted by all as one of Sorabji’s finest. The book is essential for philosophers—both specialists on the Greeks and modern thinkers about free will—and also compelling for non-specialists.”—Martha Nussbaum
“Original and important . . . The book relates Aristotle’s discussions to both the contemporary debates on determinism and causation and the ancient ones. It is especially detailed on Stoic arguments about necessity . . . and on the social and legal background to Aristotle’s thought.”—Choice
 
“It is difficult to convey the extraordinary richness of this book. . . . A Greekless philosopher could read it with pleasure . . . At the same time, its learning and scholarship are enormous.”—G. E. M. Anscombe, Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226768243
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Sorabji is emeritus professor of philosophy at King’s College, London, and fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. He is the author of Time, Creation and the Continuum; Matter, Space, and Motion; Animal Minds and Human Morals; Emotion and Peace of Mind, and Self: Ancient and Modern Insights, the last forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press. He is also general editor of seventy volumes to date of The Ancient Commentators on Aristotle, and coeditor of The Ethics of War: Shared Problems in Different Traditions.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Abbreviations
Part I: Necessity and Cause
1. Do Coincidences have Causes?
2. Is Cause related to Necessitation or to Explanation?
3. Necessitation and Law in Ancient Accounts of Cause and Explanation
4. Stoic Embarrassment over Necessity
Part II: Necessity and Time
5. Tomorrow's Sea Battle: an argument from past truth
6. Other Arguments from the Necessity of the Past
7. Other Arguments from Foreknowledge
8. Deterministic and Indeterministic Accounts of Possibility
Part III: Necessity and Purpose in Nature
9. Necessity in Nature
10. Purpose in Nature
11. Ancient and Modern Theories of Natural Selection: their relation to purpose
Part IV: Necessity and the Essences of Kinds
12. Analytic or de re?
13. Why Necessary rather than Contingent?
(Appendix: Kinds of Necessity)
Part V: Necessity and Blame
14. Cause and Necessity in Human Action
15. The Relation of Determinism to Involuntariness: Aristotle's alleged nescience
16. Involuntariness and Equity: Aristotle's alleged parsimony
17. Voluntariness, Temptation, Negligence: a succession of attempts at analysis
18. Aristotle's Contribution to Legal Theory
(Appendix: Tragic Error)
Bibliography
Index

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