startxref Conflating the two unavoidably leads to both losing objectivity, as has been shown, thereby considerably reducing the force of any moral theory. Aristotle also claims that happiness is achieved only by living a virtuous life – “our definition is in harmony with those who say that happiness is virtue, or a particular virtue; because an activity in accordance with virtue implies virtue. These rules are there to maintain freedom. However, Kant does not consider happiness to be in any way related to morality. Aristotelianism, on the other hand, is an attempt to bring in a nobler, virtuous ethic, but to a degree disregards the variety in humankind. These theories are based on this happiness, and their ideas of what happiness is, invariably overlap, as Epicurean Eudaimonia runs rather parallel to Mill’s higher pleasures (Mill, 1863). Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. Aristotle and Immanuel Kant had quite a bit to say on the subject. It is what makes man stand out from all other creatures. British Shorthair. In fact, happiness does have a pretty important role in our lives, and it can have a huge impact on the way we live our lives. However, the moral theory of Aristotle seeks to go further, by reconciling the virtues with happiness (or Eudaimonia). If you experience pleasure because x is now F, you will normally d)Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain is all that matters, morally speaking. Or at … For Kant, happiness and morality are two disparate notions that are often mistakenly observed as compounded. Kant thought that the means to happiness could not be clearly known. good will is good in itself according to Kant and not because of what the good will brings about. (Athenaeus, 1999, p.666). He says that ‘happiness then is the best…most pleasant thing’, and ‘happiness is the highest good, being a realization and perfect practice of virtue’ (Ross 2000, p.10). The Absurdity of Life: Does that mean meaningless and despair? However, as we are no longer as confident of possessing any such "certainties" of reason, happiness may not, in principle, be in a worse position than anything else we pursue. On his view, "Kant's moral feeling of respect can and does motivate moral action" (2). The motivation is not born of some desire to acquire happiness or pleasure from the act (although this may come about also), because a good/virtuous doctor is one who will treats patients out of duty even if this will be of detriment to his own happiness. He did not believe that happiness itself was necessarily good or ethical. To surmount this, Kant seeks to show the Moral Life as objective, that is, independent of any external circumstances as Aristotle’s theory is. 0000002285 00000 n Or if happiness does play more than one role in Kant's ethic, then it may be that there is more than one meaning of happiness. I believe Kant would answer thus. 41 0 obj <> endobj Yet, their theories differ ultimately in how to go about attaining happiness. I think he’s one of the most fascinating philosophers to read, even if you disagree with him on everything. Viz. Aristotelianism, on the other hand, is an attempt to bring in a nobler, virtuous ethic, but to a degree disregards the variety in humankind. Indeed, we cannot imagine a situation, according to Kant, in which we would disapprove of a good will. 0000001273 00000 n However, he seems to overlook the variety in human character and desires by ascribing this single ultimate end to everyone. If our function was not to act in accord with virtue, but in accord with scientific progress, we could label our lives ‘good’ without being virtuous, provided we advanced science. Available at [Accessed on 14.09.09], Wike, V (1994) Kant on Happiness in Ethics, New York; State University of New York Press. A consequentialist, like a utilitarian, would consider the opposite – stealing – the moral option. b. the full development of human potential. Both philosophers believe pleasure should not be the motivating force behind moral actions, for this completely disregards duty and virtue, thereby removing what is commonly called ‘moral’ or ‘good’ from those actions. Kant accepts that people are varied, and people’s ideas of happiness are numerous, leading to incoherence, self-contradiction, and innumerable moral conflicts of interests should happiness be the basis for morality. Kant proposes practical reason, not impulses or desires, to achieve the proper state of human existence. You can also experience an unexpected pleasure for which you had no prior desire.9 Nevertheless, Kant does think that there is an important connection between pleasure and the formation of inclinations: 1. Aristotle says that if happiness is not god-sent, ‘then it comes as the result of a goodness, along with a learning process, and effort’. These seem to be the main problems with Aristotle’s theory. d. kindness. This equating of rightness and happiness produced is the key point which Kantian thought runs counter to. A. K. Thomson), London: Penguin, Aristotle (2000), Nicomachean Ethics) (Trans W. D. Ross), Kindle Ebook, Athenaeus (1999) Deipnosophistae. Create a free website or blog at Available at. E.g. In short, pursuing happiness is a rational activity. In The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue, Kant describes happiness as “continuous well-being, enjoyment of life, complete satisfaction with one’s condition.” Why does Kant claim that the only thing good without qualification is a good will? More than just a tangible state, Aristotle believed that it is more a lifestyle. <]>> It involves highly rational aspects, from the gradual becoming of a virtuous man through habituation, to good fortune (NE Book2). %PDF-1.4 %���� Will with good in itself. For example, most people say courage is a virtue; however, I'm sure it took courage for the 9-11 bombers to hijack different planes, their bad will makes courage immoral in this case. Bibliography, Aristotle (2004) Nicomachean Ethics (Trans. Human happiness has been a topic of discussion for thousands of years. In short, pursuing happiness is a rational activity. In several works, Kant claims that lying is always wrong, no matter what. If they do not bring it about, we should bid them goodbye. 16-22), Kant, I Critique of Practical Reason,[excerpts from coursepack], Kant, I The Metaphysics of Morals, [excerpts from coursepack], Mill J S (1863) Utilitarianism,, London: Parker, Son and Bourn, Nietzsche, F (1998) Beyond Good and Evil, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Pogge T (2007), Fundamental Interests versus Happiness in John Rawls, Oxford: Oxford University Press, Rousseau J J (1968), The Social Contract (trans. Kant recognises this and says that to impose a particular conception of happiness on citizens is for ‘the ruler to treat citizens as children, assuming that they are unable to understand what is truly useful or harmful to them’ (SEP, N.D). The failure to acknowledge the disunity of happiness and morality helms various problems within moral theory, ergo Kant seeks to cast further light on this distinction to prove his proposition that a moral theory based on happiness is the ‘euthanasia of all morals’. Secondly, for Kant there is a firm set of rules that guide moral action which the other theories lack. It is through using our reason, the capacity that pulls directly against desires, that we free ourselves from lower animal instincts and desires and enable ourselves to be truly autonomous; it is this that Kant encourages. Therefore, so long as we abide by the CI, which adds the moral dimension to our lives, we are free to pursue the ends that lead to the happiness of oneself and those around us. For Aristotle, it is not pleasure and pain that is the motivating force behind morality. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. This series of animated videos comes to us from Wireless Philosophy (Wi-Phi for short), a project jointly created by Yale and MIT in 2013. This means that a good will is always good, and does not require anything else to be good. 0000004175 00000 n These rules are there to maintain freedom. There is also a deeper problem: trying to de-rive moral principles from the desires we happen to have is the wrong way to think about morality. As Mill said, ‘Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness’ (ibid. When we act, whether or not we achieve what we intend with our actions is often beyond our control, so the morality of our actions does not depend upon their outcome. For contrast and comparison, see Surprenant’s summaries of Aristotle and Kant’s views above and below. But, as mentioned previously, if these virtues in no way contribute toward Eudaimonia, Aristotle has no reason to promote them for they serve no real use in the Good Life, or in achieving the perfect end. Through this we are freed from blindly chasing desires and happiness, which for Kant is a higher state of being, thus liberating us to rationally pursue happiness. No headers. 41 17 Finally, this theory leaves much scope for people to pursue happiness, which is protected by the CI, thereby making a Kantian ethic more coherent than alternatives, in turn reintroducing true morality back into the picture, rather than a loose form of egoism. 0000005342 00000 n Take choosing to force a highly depressed person to take pleasure-inducing drugs, or imagine a doctor abandoning a comatose patient to take his children to a theme park. I aim to demonstrate that Kant is right in this proposal by laying bare some problems with theories such as Utilitarianism and Aristotelianism, and expounding ways in which a Kantian approach is preferable. If you punish a child for being naughty, and reward him for being good, he will do right merely for the sake of the reward; and when he goes out into the world and finds that goodness is not always rewarded, nor wickedness always punished, he will grow into a man who only thinks about how he may get on in the world, and does right or wrong according as he finds advantage to himself. This enables Kant to promote the variety that often makes the world such a wonderful place, and to stifle this as Aristotle’s theory seems to is a great disadvantage that Kant evades. Thus the major flaws in Mill’s theory revolve around shaky proofs of the necessary connections between happiness, desire, and will, and their applications. Utilitarianism holds that pleasure and happiness have intrinsic value. Furthermore, all of these theories have as their motivating factor self-interested ends, leaving us questioning whether or not a person acting out of these motivations is truly moral. Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy (N.D) Kant’s Social and Political Philosophy. Furthermore, all of these theories have as their motivating factor self-interested ends, leaving us questioning whether or not a person acting out of these motivations is truly moral. It is the most unqualifiedly perfect thing we can attain, and ‘perfection [of man] is a…property which happiness much possess’ (Kenny, 1996, p.17), and perfection is something aligned with man’s function; ‘an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue’ (1098a16). Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. According to utilitarians, there is a very close connection between human reason and happiness -- their calculative conception of reason is in the service of happiness. A categorical imperative is a requirement of reason that. Aristotle is not offering a magic wand to erase all threats to happiness. Happiness is not intrinsically good because even being worthy of happiness, Kant says, requires that one possess a good will. This form of happiness can be paralleled with the happiness of animals; we loosely call a dog happy if its desires for play and care are satisfied.