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Morality as a constitutive of self interest
Identify: Virtue ethics, the idea that moral behavior is the same as self interested behavior.
Explain: Being a moral and virtuous person is better for me for a number of reason so I am moral because in the long run it makes me a better
person. Unlike SC theory, moral behavior doesn't conflict with self interest but flows from it. Our self interests are best served by being moral in
order to achieve Eudamonia/flourishing (Aristotle and Plato). We need to understand whom we are, our function in order to do this.
Point Rejoinder Rejoinder
1. Fits with positive view on humanity as we Not referring to morality as it still states we Morality doesn't feed self interest but flows
working towards good, rather than prevent care for and respect people because it's good from it you will be happy and flourish if you
bad (Hobbes). Offers an objective account of for us not because they matter (as are moral e.g. real friendship is both moral
self interest unlike Hobbes' subjective self Kant/Hume state). E.g. Valmont in Dangerous and leads me to a good life.
interest (immediate, hedonistic desires). Liaisons by Laclos "virtuous people have less
claim to merit"
2. Plato argues that immoral behavior causes But Plato's theory requires that we We can know by not suffering from lack of
the mind/soul to be at war with itself because understand his theory about the form of good. reason if we are virtuous. E.g. if reason rules I
there is conflict between spirit and desire, e.g. As part of this, the form of something not in can choose not to kill someone I hate (moral
Chariot, so reason must rule to prevent this to the real world, so how do we know we have and self interested) because of long term
reach `good'. reached it? guilt worse than initial satisfaction. (cake
3. Aristotle's flourishing, life of a good plant = Acting morally guarantees a moral, altruistic But, if I ensure that I live in accordance with
life for a good plant. When we realise our outcome but not a self interested one, e.g. reason (Aristotle) where my choices,
function we fulfill self interest and are moral. when I give to charity it is guaranteed that emotions and desires are reasonable then
Virtue = personal habit or quality highly others will benefit but not that I will feel self interest is guaranteed to be fulfilled
developed which benefits the individual (`what virtuous. because it leads to best possible relations
can I do to improve myself?') and others e.g. necessary anger to prevent bad
(moral). treatment and fulfill function.
4. Virtue Ethics is based on a teleological view Even if there is no purpose or `designer' Is this really being moral as it is still for our
of the world as in order to have a function we thinking of our lives in Aristotelian terms as own good? Kant: morality should be the
must have a `designer' which can be trying to flourish does bring happiness and product of overcoming self interest as an end
questioned, post Darwin. moral behavior as we naturally want to be in itself/duty bound.
respected (Scalon) and can't justify immoral
acts e.g. shop keeper/Better Business
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Conclusion: The happiness we get from moral acts fulfills self interest more than immoral acts e.g. cheating in an exam provides short term
happiness but not long term pride which helps us reach Eudaimonia and act morally as `cheating is wrong' But we still do this as a hypothetical
imperative `cheating is wrong because it stops me from excelling in virtue and reaching Eudamonia' rather than a categorical imperative (Kant).…read more