Historically, philosophers have identified happiness with, among other things, pleasure, contentment, desire satisfaction, and, if we count the Greek eudaimonia as happiness, the life of virtue. When faced with competing theories of happiness, we need a way to decide which theory is more accurate. According to Larry Wayne Sumner's principle of descriptive adequacy, the best theory of happiness is the theory that best describes our ordinary, pretheoretical beliefs and intuitions. The chief aim of this article is to show that (...) the principle of descriptive adequacy is mistaken. To do this, it shows how the principle breaks down when applied to Aristotle's theory of eudaimonia, a theory Sumner claims to be descriptively inadequate as a theory of happiness. The article argues that we should reject descriptive adequacy as a metaphilosophical principle on the grounds that our intuitions and beliefs about happiness are too inchoate for any theory adequately to describe. (shrink)
This essay takes a first step in comparative ethics by looking to Aristotle and the Aztec's conceptions of the good life. It argues that the Aztec conception of a rooted life, neltiliztli, functions for ethical purposes in a way that is like Aristotle's eudaimonia. To develop this claim, it not only shows just in what their conceptions of the good consist, but also in what way the Aztecs conceived of the virtues (in qualli, in yectli).
A basic challenge to naturalistic moral realism is that, even if moral properties existed, there would be no way to naturalistically represent or track them. Here, the basic structure for a tracking account of moral epistemology is given in empirically respectable terms, based on a eudaimonist conception of morality. The goal is to show how this form of moral realism can be seen as consistent with the details of evolutionary biology as well as being amenable to the most current understanding (...) of representationalist or correspondence theories of truth. (shrink)
Aristotle's requirement that virtuous actions be chosen for themselves is typically interpreted, in Kantian terms, as taking virtuous action to have intrinsic rather than consequentialist value. This raises problems about how to reconcile Aristotle's requirement with (a) the fact that virtuous actions typically aim at ends beyond themselves (usually benefits to others); and (b) Aristotle's apparent requirement that everything (including virtuous action) be chosen for the sake of eudaimonia. I offer an alternative interpretation, based on Aristotle's account of loving (...) a friend for herself, according to which choosing a virtuous action for itself involves choosing it on account of those features of it that make it the kind of action it is, where these features include its intended consequences (such as the benefits it seeks to provide to others). I then suggest that Aristotle may take these consequences (including benefits to others) as contributing (and contributing non-instrumentally) to the agent's own eudaimonia, and that there is no conflict here with Aristotle's view that eudaimonia is an activity of the soul. For just as my activity of teaching is actualized in my students (provided they learn from me), so too my virtuous activity can be actualized in its beneficiaries. If this is right, then Aristotle's view is far from the Stoic (and proto-Kantian) view often attributed to him. (shrink)
This paper revisits Ronald Dworkin’s influential position that a person’s advance directive for future health care and medical treatment retains its moral authority beyond the onset of dementia, even when respecting this authority involves foreshortening the life of someone who is happy and content and who no longer remembers or identifies with instructions included within the advance directive. The analysis distils a eudaimonist perspective from Dworkin’s argument and traces variations of this perspective in further arguments for the moral authority of (...) advance directives by other authors. It then critiques a feature of the eudaimonist perspectives within these arguments—namely, the position that dementia has a retroactive negative impact on what a person has previously valued—and challenges the commonly held assumption underlying them that a person’s life and well-being have relatively low value beyond the onset of dementia. Although advance directives have moral authority as a means of guiding one’s future health care, accounts that dismiss the value of the lives and well-being of people living with dementia should be questioned to the extent that such accounts are used to support the moral authority of advance directives stipulating measures to foreshorten individuals’ lives. (shrink)
Aristotle’s requirement that virtuous actions be chosen for themselves is typically interpreted, in Kantian terms, as taking virtuous action to have intrinsic rather than consequentialist value. This raises problems about how to reconcile Aristotle’s requirement with the fact that virtuous actions typically aim at ends beyond themselves ; and Aristotle’s apparent requirement that everything be chosen for the sake of eudaimonia. I offer an alternative interpretation, based on Aristotle’s account of loving a friend for herself, according to which choosing (...) a virtuous action for itself involves choosing it on account of those features of it that make it the kind of action it is, where these features include its intended consequences. I then suggest that Aristotle may take these consequences as contributing to the agent’s own eudaimonia, and that there is no conflict here with Aristotle’s view that eudaimonia is an activity of the soul. For just as my activity of teaching is actualized in my students, so too my virtuous activity can be actualized in its beneficiaries. If this is right, then Aristotle’s view is far from the Stoic view often attributed to him. (shrink)
In the ethical theories of the ancient Greeks, eudaimonia provided a grounding for the value of all other goods. But a puzzle for such views is that some things are good for us irrespective of the intervention of eudaimonia and its requirement of virtuous activity. In this article, the author considers challenges to the eudaimonist account of value on those grounds pressed by Nicholas Wolterstorff and Sophie Grace Chappell. The aim is ethical-theoretical, rather than historical. The author defends (...) the thesis that a form of eudaimonism that is largely Aristotelian in form and content can meet these challenges. (shrink)
I argue that Aristotle does not believe all rational action aims at securing eudaimonia (happiness) for the agent. Intrinsic goods are worth having independently of their promotion of any further ends, including eudaimonia. Aiming for such a good or avoiding evil may be rational even when eudaimonia is impossible and not the agent's goal. "Politics" 1332a7f suggests that even the happy agent may act rationally without aiming for eudaimonia. The final section argues that, given that an (...) immoral agent secures the greatest of evils, an alleged conflict in the "Nicomachean Ethics" between the intellectualist Book X and earlier books disappears. (shrink)
A recent special issue in the Journal of Business Ethics gathered together a variety of papers addressing the challenges of putting virtue ethics into practice :563–565, 2013). The editors prefaced their outline of the various papers with the assertion that exploring the practical dimension of virtue ethics can help business leaders discover their proper place in working for a better world, as individuals and within the family, the business community and society in general :563–565, 2013). Scholars are yet to explore (...) the role of virtuous organisational leaders in the pursuit of Eudaimonia. This paper is a qualitative study which considered company directors’ self-understandings in light of a virtue ethics conceptual framework. The aim of the study is to explore whether virtue ethics rather than deontology and consequentialism is a better vehicle for expressing directors’ self-understandings about their ideals and role. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for five theses. The first thesis is that ethicists should think about happiness and unhappiness together, with as much detail and particularity as possible. Thinking about unhappiness will help us get clear about happiness, and distinguish the different things that come under that name. The second is that happiness and unhappiness can both be important positively valuable features of a worthwhile life. The third thesis is that Modern Eudaimonism, the claim that every reason to act (...) is a reason either to promote or facilitate happiness, or to decrease or prevent unhappiness, is false. The fourth thesis is thatAristotle is not a Modern Eudaimonist. Aristotelian Eudaimonism says that every reason to act is a reason that derives from what Aristotle calls eudaimonia. But “derives from” is a different connective from “either to promote or facilitate X, or to decrease or prevent not-X”; and eudaimonia is not happiness. So AE ≠ ME. Finally, the fifth thesis is that AE is false too. (shrink)
The discussion of "eudaimonia" in the "rhetoric" has a central place in Aristotle's exposition of the material for speeches deliberative, epideictic and forensic varieties of rhetoric. Due to the telos- relatedness of the material for each variety of rhetoric, the treatise on "eudaimonia" (Rhet A5) provides coherence between the varieties by displaying standards in terms of which particular cases at hand are ultimately assessed as good, useful, noble, just or their opposites. A focal and normative meaning of (...) class='Hi'>eudaimonia can be identified in A5 which Aristotle expects a prudent orator to maintain even when he is faced with perverted audiences. (shrink)
The concept of eudaimonia put forward by Aristotle in the first Book of his Nicomachean Ethics reflects an attempt to synthesize and clarify a well known concept in the Greek society, in popular as well as in more restricted intellectual circles, giving it a new scope and conceptual consistency. Ordinarily translated as happiness, well-being or prosperity, this concept frequently had a subjective sense, describing the lives of those who lived well or were eudaimon; but it also had an objective (...) sense, establishing a life conducting rule for everyone who wanted to be happy or eudaimon. In the present paper we give an account of the meaning and operative range of the concept of eudaimonia and show the eudaimonia's guiding role in the Aristotelian ethical project, namely as its founding principle and final horizon, its relations with the good and virtue, as well as with the nature of man and the generation of a new modality of being. Finally, we establish that the concept of eudaimonia is central to an ethics seen as a life project. (shrink)
Ensuring patient participation in healthcare decision making remains a difficult task. Factors such as a lack of time in the consultation, medical objectivation, or the difficulties of translating individual patient experience into the treatment plan have been shown to limit patient contributions. Little research attention has focused however on how emotions experienced by both the patient and the healthcare provider may affect the ability of the patient to participate. In this research, patient’s and healthcare provider’s emotions were identified and analysed. (...) The research method showed fear as a prominent emotion experienced. This included patient’s fears both inside and outside the consultation, as well as the healthcare provider’s fears in their professional practice. Using Martha Nussbaum’s cognitive-evaluative theory of emotions as an additional means of analysis, the research looked at what this emotion could show about the importance of the object of this fear to the person’s eudaimonia (flourishing). At the end of the article, several solutions were proposed to help mitigate this fear to keep it from becoming a destructive force in the healthcare provider—patient relationship. (shrink)
This paper re-evaluates euthanasia and assisted suicide from the perspective of eudaimonia, the ancient Greek conception of happiness across one’s whole life. It is argued that one cannot be said to have fully flourished or had a truly happy life if one’s death is preceded by a period of unbearable pain or suffering that one cannot avoid without assistance in ending one’s life. While death is to be accepted as part of life, it should not be left to nature (...) to dictate the way we die, and it is fundamentally unjust to grant people liberal latitude in how they live their lives while granting them little control over the conclusion of their life narratives. Three objections to this position are considered and rejected; the paper also offers an explanation of why we think killing can be a benefit. Ultimately, euthanasia may be necessary in some cases in order to achieve eudaimonia. (shrink)
Karl Marx states in Capital that “man, if not as Aristotle thought a political animal, is at all events a social animal” (Marx, 1992, 444). That Marx draws from Aristotle’s work has been long-recognized, but one could argue that Marx’s very conception of man—what he calls “species-being”—is a derivative of Aristotle’s theory of the good life. This article explores the Aristotelian underpinnings of Marx’s political philosophy and argues that Marx’s theory of species-being and human emancipation supervenes upon Aristotle’s theory of (...)eudaimonia. The consequence of such a rethinking suggests that the Aristotelian good life itself is possible only in the communist society of Marx’s imaginings and, as such, is a state that must be realized—whether by nature or revolution—for human flourishing. Inspired by Aristotle’s assertion that “friendship exists to the extent that what is just exists” (Aristotle, 1991a, 527), this article draws from several of Aristotle’s and Marx’s texts to situate man as an inherently social being, whose need of other men serves both to edify and realize a common end toward which the state is oriented: the life of virtuous activity performed by and in an association of equals. (shrink)
How can an ideal of human flourishing reveal what attributes are virtues, as eudaimonism aspires to do, when not all virtuous lives flourish? The standard answer is that even if circumstances prevent one from attaining that idealized life, still one’s life approximates to the ideal the more one’s character approximates to the ideal. However, exploration of methods of idealization reveals that “approximation” is ill-suited to contexts in which factors interact, as virtue and circumstance do. Instead, eudaimonism helps us understand the (...) distinctive excellence of humans by providing a perspective on what is distinctly human about a distinctly human mode of life, namely practical intelligence in making use of one’s circumstances, whatever they may be. This is an alternative understanding of the method of idealization in eudaimonism about virtue, and so the chapter ends with reflections on some uses and limits of idealization in virtue theory. (shrink)
This essay explores connections and divergences between Alasdair MacIntyre's eudaimonistic ethic and Søren Kierkegaard's agapeistic ethic--perhaps the greatest proponents of these ethical paradigms from the past two centuries. The purpose of the work is threefold. First, to demonstrate an impressive amount of convergence and complementarity in their approaches to the transcendent grounds of an ethic of flourishing, the rigors necessary for a proper self-love, and the other-directed nature of proper social relations. Second, given the inapplicability of common dichotomies, to pinpoint (...) more precisely where Kierkegaard departs from eudaimonism, and where MacIntyre departs from agapeism. Finally, to show that both Kierkegaard's and MacIntyre's grounds for departure are inadequate, and thus that the most central insights of eudaimonist and agapeist ethics can be harmonized to a greater extent than either Kierkegaard's or MacIntyre's framework can allow. (shrink)
This article develops a eudaimonistic account of professional virtue. Using the case of teaching, the article argues that professional virtue requires that role holders care about the ends of their work. Care is understood in terms of an investment of the self. Virtuous role holders are invested in their practice in a way that makes professional excellence part of their own good. Failure to care about the ends of professional practice reveals a lack of appreciation of the value of professional (...) work. This ‘investment view’ is contrasted with the currently popular ‘key goods view’, which claims that professional virtues require a profession-specific teleological structure. Unlike ordinary virtues, which are governed by eudaimonia or human flourishing, professional virtues are allegedly derived from professional ends, like health or education. The article argues that this delivers an unconvincing criterion for determining the merits of character traits. (shrink)
A partir de uma análise crítica do conceito de eudaimonia aristotélica, almeja-se compreender qual é o fim aos quais todas as nossas ações tendem e como podemos alcançá-lo. Para isso, utilizar-se-á como fio condutor desta pesquisa a analise do livro I da obra Ética a Nicômaco de Aristóteles, delineando os elementos que permeiam o problema da ação virtuosa, tais como o conceito de virtude, felicidade e alma.
Almost all the classical theories on ethics place man's objective as his search for happiness. This ideal is based on nature. Medieval thinkers, considering man as a person, came to the conclusion that he is called to a transcendental destiny; however, because they continued to use the classical ideal of happiness as a concenptual model, they created quite a few difficulties: self-transcendence and self-fulfillment are opposing models. L. Polo, on the other hand, proposes a non-naturalist anthropology that considers each person (...) as destined to transcendence. (shrink)
This paper treats of Husserl’s phenomenology of happiness or eudaimonia in five parts. In the first part, we argue that phenomenology of happiness is an important albeit relatively neglected area of research, and we show that Husserl engages in it. In the second part, we examine the relationship between phenomenological ethics and virtue ethics. In the third part, we identify and clarify essential aspects of Husserl’s phenomenology of happiness, namely, the nature of the question concerning happiness and the possibility (...) of a phenomenological answer, the power of the will, the role of vocation, the place of obligation, the significance of habituation, the necessity of selfreflection and self-criticism, the importance of sociability and solidarity, the impact of chance and destiny, and the specter of regret. In the fourth part, we establish the inextricable linkage between Husserl’s metaethics and his metaphysics. In the fi ft h part, we provide a provisional exploration of his conception of the connection between happiness and blessedness. We acknowledge that there is an extensive literature on Husserl’s phenomenological ethics, and our study has benefitted greatly from it, but we also suggest that our holistic approach critically clarifies his description of happiness, virtue, and blessedness by fully recognizing that his phenomenological metaethics is embedded in his phenomenological metaphysics. (shrink)
The present paper concentrates on the comments of Michael of Ephesus to the 10th book of the Nicomachean Ethics. In particular it investigates the way in which Michael of Ephesus conceived the relationship between political and theoretical happiness. Doing so allows to evidence the theoretical ties that connect Michael of Ephesus with the Peripatetic philosopher Aspasius and demonstrates the influence of Proclus on Michael of Ephesus.
Almost all the classical theories on ethics place man’s objective as his search for happiness. This ideal is based on nature. Medieval thinkers, considering man as a person, came to the conclusion that he is called to a transcendental destiny; however, because they continued to use the classical ideal of happiness as a concenptual model, they created quite a few difficulties: self-transcendence and self-fulfillment are opposing models. L. Polo, on the other hand, proposes a non-naturalist anthropology that considers each person (...) as destined to transcendence. (shrink)