Tag Archives: Ethics

Intermède : Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle


The Nicomachean Ethics (/nɪˌkɒmæˈkiːən/) is the name normally given to Aristotle’s best-known work onethics. The work, which plays a pre-eminent role in defining Aristotelian ethics, consists of ten books, originally separate scrolls, and is understood to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum.

The theme of the work is the Socratic question which had previously been explored in Plato’s works, of how men should best live. In his Metaphysics, Aristotle described how Socrates turned philosophy to human questions, whereas Pre-Socratic philosophy had only been theoretical.


All human activities aim at some end that we consider good. Most activities are a means to a higher end. The highest human good, then, is that activity that is an end in itself. That good is happiness. When we aim at happiness, we do so for its own sake, not because happiness helps us realize some other end. The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness. This study is necessarily imprecise, since so much depends on particular circumstances.

Happiness depends on living in accordance with appropriate virtues. Virtue is a disposition rather than an activity. That is, a virtuous person is naturally disposed to behave in the right ways and for the right reasons, and to feel pleasure in behaving rightly.   …

One by one, Aristotle discusses the various moral virtues and their corresponding vices. Courage consists of confidence in the face of fear. Temperance consists of not giving in too easily to the pleasures of physical sensation. Liberality and magnificence consist of giving away varying amounts of money in appropriate and tasteful ways. Magnanimity and proper ambition consist of having the right disposition toward honor and knowing what is one’s due. Patience is the appropriate disposition toward anger, though it is sometimes appropriate to show some degree of anger. The three social virtues of amiability, sincerity, and wit make for pleasant and engaging interaction with others. Modesty is not properly a virtue, but an appropriate disposition toward shame, which is admirable in the young. Justice in a sense encompasses all the other virtues, since being just consists of exhibiting virtue generally.

While the moral virtues dispose us to behave in the correct manner, it is necessary also to have the right intellectual virtues in order to reason properly about how to behave. There are five intellectual virtues. Three of them—scientific knowledge, intuition, and wisdom—consist of contemplative reasoning, which is detached from human affairs. The other two—art or technical skill and prudence—consist of calculative reasoning, which helps us make our way in the world. Prudence is the intellectual virtue that helps us reason properly about ethical matters.

Literature, Ethics, Physics: It’s All In Video Games At This Norwegian School


By Paul Darvasi, Extraits :

A group of Norwegian high school seniors sit in religious studies class, absorbed by a moral conundrum unfolding in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. Their teacher, Tobias Staaby, is screening a scene from the critically acclaimed video game, The Walking Dead, which depicts a knotty ethical dilemma confronting the group of rag-tag survivors: Supplies are running low and only four food items are left to ration, but there are 10 hungry mouths to feed. Who should eat? The grumpy old guy? The injured teen? The children? The leader?

Once the class reaches a consensus, they have to justify their choice with one of the concepts they’ve learned from moral philosophy. Was their decision guided by situational ethics, utilitarianism or consequentialism? This is one instance of how commercial video games are used at Nordahl Grieg Upper Secondary, a public high school located in the coastal city of Bergen in Norway.

The first obstacle was getting students up to speed with the game’s elaborate interface. This might seem like time away from “real learning,” but studies increasingly support the idea that learning to play a complex game is, in and of itself, a valuable exercise in cognitive calisthenics. To ease the familiarization process, experienced players were strategically grouped with novices, which Husøy observed altered the class’s social dynamic. “Students became more willing to share and collaborate through working with this project. There grew a community spirit that occurs when a group of people are doing something unique together.” This unintended consequence played well into the school’s sociocultural aim of co-constructing knowledge.

“Should we have a large mass and height? Drop 50 kilograms from 50 meters? Oh, the air resistance kicks in – let’s shorten the height,” said Kristofferson, illustrating how his students toyed with the power of gravity. “but the game gives students a different perspective on the laws of physics, where mechanics are simulated by a computer to create a realistic gaming environment.

Staaby also used the post-apocalyptic zombie survival game The Last of Us in his lit class. Critics swooned over its intricate storyline and engaging character development, which his students studied much as they would any traditional work of literature – with a few differences. They played the first eight hours at home, and then completed the game together in class. During class play, Staaby reported that his students applauded, were visibly moved and reduced to absolute silence in the game’s final moments. “These were all events that I could not imagine having happened if we watched a movie or read a novel together.”

The Norwegian Center for ICT in Education, which works on behalf of the Ministry of Education, now takes video games seriously, and has designated two officials, Jørund Høie Skaug and Vibeke Guttormsgaard, to undertake a national project to integrate games in schools. “With a great team of young teachers with game experience, and with time to plan and develop their game pedagogy,