Southwest Philosophy Review 33 (2):127-145 (2017)

Anna Cremaldi
Appalachian State University
To be generous, by Aristotle’s lights, one does not have to be a saint. Rather, Aristotle’s criteria for generosity are ordinary and consistent with the norms of his day. It is surprising, then, to find Aristotle claiming that very few people succeed in being generous. This claim generates a puzzle: if generosity is not extraordinarily demanding, why are so few fulfilling its criteria? The puzzle is not addressed by the literature on generosity, but it is worth addressing for its surprising explanation. There is a natural tendency towards illiberality, given normal physiological processes associated with aging, and this tendency has broad implications for moral development. This explanation suggests that legislators wishing to instill generosity in citizens must study the means of intervening in physiological processes—a point that often goes unaddressed in studies of happiness and its relationship to external goods.
Keywords Conference Proceedings  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
Categories No categories specified
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ISBN(s) 0897-2346
DOI 10.5840/swphilreview201733245
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