Examination Of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics As A Valid Ethical System


“Ethics” has been referred to as “the branch of philosophical study that is concerned more about morality”. However, it is worthy of pointing out to the fact that Ethics relates to a firm desire to realize what is wrong and right and to apply that to our way of life.

This branch of philosophy is primarily concerned with questions on how human beings should live their lives and differentiate what is “right from wrong”. There is no doubt that most people hold on to ethics as a rule of thumb. that consciously it helps them decide good from bad. These include rules such as “it is wrong to steal”, “it is right to help people in need”, and so on. But sometimes the variations and complexities of life mean that these simple rules are sometimes put to the test.

If we are to consider the idea that it’s wrong to kill, what should we say or think about capital punishment is it also wrong? Shall we say that killings of any species of animal is wrong? Even though those animals that are killed are being used as food. Will killing as a means of self-defense also be considered a wrong thing to do. In the course of applying our accustomed notions of wrong and right to these questions, we are likely not to arrive at straightforward answers immediately. However, we must look at most of the questions in more detail; and in doing so, we need to rest this work on a valid theoretical framework in order to guide us in the course of providing a valid answer to it.

However, the main aim of this essay is to examine Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics with a view to logically conclude whether Aristotle’s work may be viewed as a valid ethical system. Furthermore, this essay aimed at providing reasons that are logically acceptable for whatever conclusion that will be arrived at.

Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics

Nicomachean ethics was conceptualized as a philosophical inquiry that investigates the nature of the good life for individuals. Aristotle commenced the existence of some ultimate good towards which, all human endeavors are aimed at. The important characteristics of this ultimate good is that it is complete, self-sufficient, final and continuous.

Aristotle begins his work on Nichomachean ethics with this main idea that there is divergence of opinions about what is best for all human beings. He furthered this idea by opining that for us to gain from ethical inquiry; we all needed to resolve this divergence issue. He also insisted that ethics should not be treated as a theoretical discipline. However, Aristotle in his own view believed that everyone would agree on the terms that ‘’happiness and living well indicates such an end. Although, Aristotle was said never to pay attention to this etymology in all his ethical writings, and this seems to have no significant influence on his thinking.

Furthermore, Aristotle regards happiness as just ‘’a mere substitute for living well’’. These circumstances however have played a significant role that is far different from mere descriptions of someone's state of mind. Aristotle’s biological fact is strictly “that human beings are the only species that possess not only these lower capacities but a rational soul too”. Up till now, no other philosopher or writer had said precisely what Aristotle says about what it is to live well. However, at the same time his perspective is not too far from a common idea.

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle proposed that humans are rational and social animals that seek to “live well.” With respect to this, he proposed a system of ethics which was designed to help us reach “eudaimonia” a world that means flourishing or living well. 

With respect to the summary of Aristotle’s work on an ethical system, this essay seeks to conclude on whether Aristotle Nicomachean ethics can be regarded as a valid ethical system or not.

Can it be regarded as a valid ethical system?

Having gone through various works of Aristotle on the topic, it can be logically concluded that Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics can be regarded as a valid ethical system. Hence, this essay supports the argument as regards why Nichomachean is a valid ethical system. This conclusion can be buttressed by the following points that stand in support of this argument.

The first point in support of this argument is that Nicomachean ethics addressed the main area of all human’s endeavor which is bravery. Generally, there is this believe that a brave man is one who fears and faces what he should at the right time, for the right reason and in the right manner. Also, Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics addressed the area of bodily pressure bearing fully in mind that pleasure is part of the factors that influenced people’s decisions as to whether they will violate or uphold what is regarded as an ethical system.

Another point that justifies this conclusion is justice. It is believed that without law, there is likely not to be orderliness or agreements. The question that keeps begging for response is that in the absence of orderliness, how can a society achieve what can be referred as a valid ethical system?


This essay has extensively examined Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics as a valid ethical system. While trying to pitch a tent as to whether Nicomachean is a valid ethical system or not, this essay examined and explained the key concepts of the subject matter before proceeding to support the argument with various points and instances. Although, there may be a logical conclusion elsewhere that might be contrary to this conclusion, this essay has justified its findings by providing supportive points to back up the rationale for the ‘’why’’.


  • Gradesaver. Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics. n.d. #$ February 2020 .
  • Gueguen, John. 'MORAL PHILOSOPHY: General Ethics.' Gueguen, John. MORAL PHILOSOPHY: General Ethics. Arnold Hall, 1999.
  • Philosophy, Stanford Encyclopedia of. 'Aristotle's Ethics.' Friday June 2018. Stanford Encyclopedia. of Philosophy. 18 February 2020 .
  • Ross, W.D. NICOMACHEAN ETHICS ARISTOTLE. Batoche Books;Kitchener, 1999.
16 December 2021
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