Thank you Sparknotes for your great and concise articles. I got 95/100 on my exam.
Furthermore, the mean is “relative to ourselves,” indicating that one person’s mean may be another person’s extreme. Milo the wrestler, as Aristotle puts it, needs more gruel than a normal person, and his mean diet will vary accordingly. Similarly for the moral virtues. Aristotle suggests that some people are born with weaker wills than others; for these people, it may actually be a mean to flee in battle (the extremes being to get slaughtered or commit suicide). Here we see the flexibility in Aristotle’s account: as soon as he begins to lay down some moral rules, he relaxes them in order to take into consideration the variety and contingency of particular temperaments.
More importantly, virtue theories may be able to teach us how morals themselves should be taught. This is particularly true in the earliest years when the more complicated decision-making processes are not yet possible.