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Aristotle and Heidegger Allowing Personal Accountability

Powerful Essays
Aristotle and Heidegger Allowing Personal Accountability

A disquieting article recently appeared in The New York Times. The article chronicles the story of Larry W. Peterman, resident of Provo, Utah, owner of a successful adult video store, and defendant in a case in which he was charged with selling obscene material. During Peterman’s trial, the following information came to the fore, "As it turned out, people in Utah County, a place that often boasts of being the most conservative area in the nation, were disproportionately large consumers of the very videos that prosecutors had labeled obscene and illegal. And far more Utah County residents were getting their adult movies from the sky or cable than they were from the stores owned by Larry Peterman."11 Mr. Spencer, a public defender who described himself as a devout Mormon said, "The fact is that an awful lot of people here in [Provo] are paying to look at porn. What that says to me is that we're normal."22

Provo’s "normal" residents buy twice as much pornography as the occupants of other comparably sized American cities.33 Ostensibly most, if not all, of Provo’s predominantly Mormon inhabitants have heard their church leaders constantly, unequivocally decry pornography.44 Yet despite constant warnings, not only are Provoans incontinent, they are statistically twice as incontinent as their other small-town counterparts. What could explain this weakness? Moreover, what is it in us that seems to make us prone, or whereby we make ourselves prone, to incontinence? Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics and Martin Heidegger in Being and Time both offer models of human action that account for human weakness, which Heidegger calls inauthenticity and Aristotle names akrasi...

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...iversity Press, 1993)

John Haugland, "Heidegger on Being a Person," in Nous 16, no. 1 (1982)

Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (New York: Harper and Row, 1962)

Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling: Dialectical Lyric, trans. Howard V. and Edna H. Hong (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1983)

Daniel N. Robinson, "Psychology as a Human Science: Rationality, Volition, and the Moral Point of View," in Aristotle's Psychology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989)

Amelie Okensberg Rorty, "The Place of Contemplation in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics," Mind 87, no. 347 (Jul 1978)

M.T. Thornton, "Aristotelian Practical Reason," Mind 91, no. 361 (Jan 1982)

C. Terry Warner, "The Aristotelian Strategy," in "The Possibility of Self-Deception" (Department of Philosophy, Brigham Young University, photocopy)