On Proper Action and Virtue: An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

Author: Joseph Karuzis, Hokkaido University, Japan
Published: October 2015

Citation: Karuzis, J. (2015). On Proper Action and Virtue: An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. IAFOR Journal of Ethics, Religion & Philosophy, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijerp.2.1.02


This paper will discuss and analyze specific arguments concerning moral virtue and action that are found within the ten books of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Eudaimonia, i.e. well-being, or happiness, is the highest good for people, and in order to achieve this, a virtuous character is necessary. A virtuous character is cultivated, and the life of a virtuous human is a life that is lived well, and is lived according to moral virtues which are developed through proper habits. It is through this development and practice of moral virtues by which one achieves eudaimonia, for this well-being is achieved by partaking in actions that are virtuous. The study of ethics for Aristotle is a practical science. Although through the study of ethics one may acquire theoretical knowledge, it is practical knowledge, or practical wisdom, that is most important for Aristotle when engaged in a search to define and cultivate a life that is well-lived. The topics and arguments contained within this paper will be of interest and relevance to both those who are interested in ancient Greek philosophy and to those that are concerned with ethics in the modern world. For this paper will also present situations from the modern world that are either examples of virtuous activity or its opposite. Such a study into Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics will offer insightful perspectives on proper action and virtue that is rooted in ancient Greek philosophy and remains relevant in our modern world.


Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle, moral virtue, eudaimonia