The practical life of what reasons: Eudaimonist ethics as a guide to right action
AuthorBaker, Jennifer Anne
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractEudaimonism once had great success in fostering a public appreciation of philosophy. In contrast, a recent editorial on the subject of bioethics was titled, "The Ethicist's New Clothes." Contemporary ethical theories have not been well popularized, and to the public these theories seem untried. But perhaps the public is right to be suspicious of ethical accounts that regard ethics as the province of those with advanced training in philosophy. Once we start thinking this, we have perhaps forgotten what ethics is meant to do, and how it is meant to do what it does for all of us. In this project, I set up a contest between ethical theories, seeking to determine which is the most practically guiding to agents. In chapters one and two I argue that a number of contemporary approaches to ethics are inappropriately inapplicable. In contrast, a version of virtue ethics, ancient eudaimonist theory, is shown to be more applicable and practical to agents than either Kant's theory or consequentialism. In chapters three and four I argue for how this is. In chapters five and six, I look to how far-ranging ethical theories' applicability may be, by considering how eudaimonist ethical theory can help to justify political organization. Stoic and Epicurean eudaimonism, for example, can justify arrangements that we might recognize as liberal, but not by attempting to remain neutral on the subject of value.
Degree ProgramGraduate College