Penultimate para: In other words, he consciously chose a course of action that he knew to be wrong, as he made perfectly clear by resigning when he was found out. Here again, Aristotle has the last word. You can wish for whatever end you like, good or bad, but it is what you actually do about it that counts; and while ‘a worthless man wishes for anything that takes his fancy’, he says, an honourable man will wish for what is good, and choose appropriate means to achieve that end. But at every choice, Aristotle insists, ‘We have the power to act, or not to act, to say “yes” or “no”.’ As a result, he concludes, virtue and vice are up to us, while to absolve bad men of blame for wrongdoing automatically deprives good men of praise for virtue.

1. Would someone please explain the last sentence? Is the author saying that absolution ... deprives good men of praise, and [provides instead] for virtue ? How to decompose/parse this?

2. I'm confused by the use of automatically. How can absolution be expressed as automatic?
What's the reasoning or what suggests it?

Please explain the steps, thought processes; I’d like to try to resolve this myself in the future?

1 Answer 1


I believe what he is saying is that if we say that someone who has done something wrong was not at fault, it's like saying he had no control over the wrong thing that he did. And if people don't have control over whether they do something right or wrong, then we shouldn't praise someone for doing something good either, since that was not under their control either.

The word "automatically" here is to show these two things things are connected by definition. Either you have control over choosing to do good or bad things, or you do not have control.

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