In Book III, Aristotle begins the chapter by establishing that there are both voluntary actions and involuntary actions in an effort to determine what virtue is. He says that virtue is determined by the actions and feelings, however the feelings that result form a human’s actions are different in different circumstance, based on whether the actions are involuntary or voluntary. He uses the example that in a normal situation, a person would be blamed for doing something shameful. If, however, they did it after being told by a tyrant you must in order to keep your family alive, you might be praised or pardoned for your actions because they could be considered forced on you by an outside force, making them involuntary. He continues on page 377 to discuss what makes an action involuntary and how that changes the way people feel about an action.
I found this particular section interesting because it is something that we see as a huge obstacle even in today’s society, particularly in the court system. The court system is usually where a person’s actions are declared, as Aristotle would put it, to be pardoned, pitied, or blamed, however sometimes the morality of a person’s actions are hard to determine based on the situation and this causes difficulty in our court systems. For example, after World War II, the Nuremburg trails punished many people who had done terrible actions. However, it was also argued by some that some of the soldiers were forced by the government to carrying out these actions in order to keep themselves and their families alive. I think it it was interesting that Aristotle is discussing what seems to be a basic understanding of actions and explaining why it can be much more complicated that what one might see on the surface, just as we see in our own government today.