In this section, Aristotle discusses virtues as being either voluntary or involuntary. Actions determined to be voluntary receive either praise or blame, but are pardoned when involuntary. Distinguishing between the two, however, can be quite troublesome.
According to Aristotle, involuntary actions are what come to be by force or because of ignorance. This “force” is an external principle and is not contributed to by the victim. Some actions, however, are chosen by fear of greater evil. Actions chosen in the context of a situation that would otherwise be unchoiceworthy are considered to be “mixed” because they are voluntary in action but involuntary in nature. A fully voluntary action is one done willingly, when the principle of the action is in him. In a voluntary case, the agent is free to choose either choice and has the power to do so respectively. These definitions are vague and leave room for discrepancy. What sorts of things should we say are forced? What sorts of things should be chosen as the price of what good? When does ignorance become voluntary?
The idea of deeming any action as voluntary or involuntary at first seemed to be an easy task. But after looking deeper and contemplating the ideas Aristotle has provided in Book III, I now find myself questioning the voluntarity of even the most innocent seeming actions. Prior habits and lifestyle choices affect the responsibly you must take for your actions, ignorant or not. Ignorance can be self-inflicted and thus destroy any semblance of involuntarity. Every case must be considered individually when determining whether an action should be praised, blamed, or pardoned based off whether it is voluntary or not.