Volume 2, Issue 3, 2018
Ancient Greek Philosophy: Hellenistic Philosophy
Intermediate and Perfect Appropriate Actions in Stoicism
The essay examines the Stoic notion of appropriate actions (καθήκοντα), focusing on the relationship between the perfectly appropriate actions of the virtuous person (the Stoic κατορθώματα) and “intermediate appropriate actions” (καθήκοντα μέσα). I present some of the philosophical motivations behind the general Stoic theory of καθήκοντα, and argue against the common interpretation of μέσα καθήκοντα as action types that make no reference to the manner of their performance, and of κατορθώματα as μέσα καθήκοντα that are rightly performed by an agent with a virtuous disposition. Instead, I claim that the different types of καθήκοντα should be distinguished with reference to the kinds of things they aim at, rather than the manner in which they are performed. So, μέσα καθήκοντα should be understood as actions aiming at natural advantages that are indifferent, and κατορθώματα as actions aiming at the only true good, i.e., virtue. I discuss some of the advantages of the alternative view and outline the account of virtuous motivation that arises from it.