Human Flourishing Versus Desire Satisfaction

Social Philosophy and Policy 16 (1):113-142 (1999)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

What is the good for human persons? If I am trying to lead the best possible life I could lead, not the morally best life, but the life that is best for me, what exactly am I seeking?This phrasing of the question I will be pursuing may sound tendentious, so some explanation is needed. What is good for one person, we ordinarily suppose, can conflict with what is good for other persons and with what is required by morality. A prudent person seeks her own good efficiently; she selects the best available means to her good. If we call the value that a person seeks when she is being prudent “prudential value,” then an alternative rendering of the question to be addressed in this essay is “What is prudential value?” We can also say that an individual flourishes or has a life high in well-being when her life is high in prudential value. Of course, these common-sense appearances that the good for an individual, the good for other persons, and the requirements of morality often are in conflict might be deceiving. For all that I have said here, the correct theory of individual good might yield the result that sacrificing oneself for the sake of other people or for the sake of a morally worthy cause can never occur, because helping others and being moral always maximize one's own good. But this would be the surprising result of a theory, not something we should presuppose at the start of inquiry. When a friend has a baby and I express a conventional wish that the child have a good life, I mean a life that is good for the child, not a life that merely helps others or merely respects the constraints of morality. After all, a life that is altruistic and perfectly moral, we suppose, could be a life that is pure hell for the person who lives it—a succession of horrible headaches marked by no achievements or attainments of anything worthwhile and ending in agonizing death at a young age. So the question remains, what constitutes a life that is good for the person who is living it?

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,907

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

When the Shape of a Life Matters.Stephen M. Campbell - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (3): 565-75.
The Good life and the human good.Ellen Frankel Paul, Fred Dycus Miller & Jeffrey Paul (eds.) - 1992 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press.
A life not worth living?Craig Paterson - 2003 - Studies in Christian Ethics 16 (2):1-20.
Why Is Aristotle’s Vicious Person Miserable?Gösta Grönroos - 2015 - In Rabbås Øyvind, Emilsson Eyjolfur Kjálar, Fossheim Hallvard & Fossheim Miira (eds.), The quest for the good life: Ancient philosophers on happiness. OUP. pp. 146–163.
The Human Good and the Ambitions of Consequentialism.James Griffin - 1992 - Social Philosophy and Policy 9 (2):118.
Darwall on rational care.Joseph Raz - 2006 - Utilitas 18 (4):400-414.
What is the Good Life?Lydia G. Cochrane (ed.) - 2005 - University of Chicago Press.
What is the Good Life?Lydia G. Cochrane (ed.) - 2013 - University of Chicago Press.
Understanding What’s Good for Us.Michael J. Zimmerman - 2009 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 12 (4):429 - 439.
Groundhog Day and the Good Life.Diana Abad - 2012 - Film-Philosophy 16 (1):149-164.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
605 (#30,303)

6 months
64 (#78,319)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Richard J. Arneson
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

Desire satisfactionism and hedonism.Chris Heathwood - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 128 (3):539-563.
Against Welfare Subjectivism.Eden Lin - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):354-377.
Not Always Worth the Effort: Difficulty and the Value of Achievement.Sukaina Hirji - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (2):525-548.
Effort and Achievement.Hasko von Kriegstein - 2017 - Utilitas 29 (1):27-51.

View all 95 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Anarchy, State, and Utopia.Robert Nozick - 1974 - Philosophy 52 (199):102-105.
What is equality? Part 1: Equality of welfare.Ronald Dworkin - 1981 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 10 (3):185-246.

View all 18 references / Add more references