How can one explain the gap between knowing ethics and being ethical?

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There are two standard strands of philosophical thinking concerning this issue, one deriving from Plato and one from Aristotle.

On the Socratic/Platonic model, to know the good is to do the good. Thus  a Platonist would argue that if someone claims to know the good but does not do it, then they have false or seeming rather than true knowledge. So, for example, in the Gorgias, anyone who commits an injustice does not know that committing is worse than suffering injustice, but still has false beliefs about the seriousness of harm to the soul vs. harm to externals.

Aristotle, on the other hand, explains this phenomenon in terms of what he calls "akrasia" or weakness of will. He would argue that the intellect may know the good, and the emotions desire something that is not good, and a weak will or will subject to the emotions will cause someone to act counter to his or her beliefs. Aristotle believes therefore that to achieve ethical behaviour, one must train the emotions and will to ethical habits.

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How can the gap that sometimes occurs between knowledge of ethics and being an ethical person be accounted for?

Many philosophers have struggled with the problem of the gap between knowing and doing the good, as have many religious thinkers.

The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) account for the gap by the notion of sin, whether defined as an actively evil force or inherently flawed and corruptible human nature.

Platonists argue that one's not doing the good is evidence that one really does not know it, because if you were really convinced that something was good you would do it, Plato discusses this in the Gorgias.

Aristotelians account for the gap in terms of "akrasia" or "weakness of will." See Nicomachean Ethics the foundational Aristotelian analysis.

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