At least since Burnyeat's “Aristotle on Learning to Be Good,” one of the most popular ways of explaining moral development in Aristotle is by appealing to mechanisms of pleasure and pain. Aristotle himself suggests this kind of explanation when he says that “in educating the young we steer them by the rudders of pleasure and pain” (Nicomachean Ethics X.1, 1172a21). However, I argue that, contrary to the dominant view, Aristotle's view on moral development in the Nicomachean Ethics is not mainly about learning to feel pleasures and pains in relation to the right kinds of objects and activities. I show that given Aristotle's account of the relationships between pleasure and virtuous actions, on the one hand, and between pleasure and virtuous dispositions, on the other, pleasure can only have a supporting role in our learning to be good, and not a guiding one.

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