Theories of Self-Interest and Virtue Ethics in Aristotle's Philosophy

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Explain what the Success Theory of self-interest is, as described by Derek Parfit.

A theory of self-interest is a general answer to the question ‘what would be in a person’s interest?’ or ‘what would be best for a person? ’Or what would make a person’s life go for him, as well as possible? The success theory of self-interest is part of the desire-fulfillment theories, which claim that what would make one’s life go best is whatever would best fulfill one’s desires. What makes one’s life’s go better is whatever better fulfills their desires. The success theory restricts the relevant desires to be desires about one’s own life. Only desires that involve me will be relevant in determining whether or not my life is going better or worse.

Explain what an Objective List Theory of self-interest is, as described by Derek Parfit.

According to the objective list theory there are certain things that make our life go best, or go better, whether we desire these things or not, or whether we are aware of having such things or not. Such things might include moral goodness, being a good parent, knowledge… Objectives list theories are distinguished from each other by what objects are found on the respective lists. One theory might claim that having children is an objective goes that makes your life go better or another theory might say that’s not the case.

According to Derek Parfit, what are the three possible kinds of theories of self-interest?

These theories complete the answer “What makes a person’s life go as well as possible?” The idea is that every possible complete answer to the question, will be at least one of these kinds of theories. Hedonistic, desire fulfillment and objective list theories.

Give an example of a modus tollens argument. (It doesn’t need to be a philosophical argument.)

If I’m hungry I eat, if I’m not hungry I do not eat.

Explain the difference between Intrinsic Attitudinal Hedonism and Desert Adjusted Intrinsic Attitudinal Hedonism.

IAH is considered correct someone who enjoys doing things in their life that are actually “worth” enjoying. On the contrary, DAIAH is when someone who enjoys their life and is actually enjoying something worth enjoying.

Explain the difference between Sensory hedonism and Attitudinal hedonism.

Concerning sensory hedonism, all that is required is that the one that experiences the feeling enjoys it. For example, someone sticking their foot into a hot bath. The feeling of heat is a paradigm example of a feeling. It is an attitude. An example of attitudinal hedonism, suppose I find a book to be very enjoyable. In this case, I am taking attitudinal pleasure in the fact that this book is well written.

Give a modus tollens argument against Intrinsic Attitudinal Hedonism using Feldman’s example of the terrorist who enjoys seeing folks suffer.

As a terrorist gets pleasure with suffer, it is related with cruelty. Pleasures such as this might seem to make a life worse, rather than better. Hedonism looks for the pleasure in the right way.

Give a definition of basic human good according to Gomez-Lobo.

A basic human good is something that is a fundamental ingredient to human flourishing. All of them together is what makes up happiness, this is what is to flourish. A life where you have all these goods is a life worth living.

What are the basic human goods according to Gomez-Lobo?

Gomez-Lobo says there are 7 basic human goods. These are: Life, Family and integrity, Friendship, Work and play, Knowledge, The experience of beauty, Theoretical knowledge, Religions and Health.

According to Aristotle everyone agrees that the highest human good is happiness. Explain what it means for something to be the highest human good.

The highest good is that good at which all actions aim. It must be an end in itself, self-sufficient and attainable. As happiness alone satisfies these conditions, happiness alone is our highest good.

According to Aristotle, what is the highest good of the human being?

The highest good is a solitary nucleolus which all other goods are acted upon for. For Aristotle, this highest good is happiness or Eudaimonia (which translates to living well)

According to Aristotle, what is an ethical or moral virtue?

Virtue is of two kinds, intellectual and moral. The intellectual is generated and fostered for the most part by teaching, and so requires time and experience. Moral virtue however is derived from customary action. Virtue then is a habit that chooses the mean in regard to us, as that mean is determined by reason and understood by a wise man. Virtue is a mean between two vices: of that which is according to excess and of that which is according to defect. For this reason, virtue according to its essence and definition is a mean. But it is also an extreme as having the nature of what is best and right. Aristotle defines moral virtue as a disposition to behave in the light manner and as a mean between extremes of deficiency and excess, which are vices. We learn moral virtue primary through habit and practice, rather than through reasoning and instruction.

According to Aristotle, what are the vices associated with courage? (One of these vices will involve excess and the other defect regarding danger.)

In examining specific virtues, such as courage, Aristotle defined them as a “mean” between two extremes. Courage lies between the vices of cowardliness and rashness.

According to Aristotle, what are the vices associated with temperance? (One of these vices will involve excess and the other defect regarding bodily pleasures.)

The vices associated with temperance are the following: Excess in these things is called intemperance. On the other side, persons lacking a sense of pleasure are unnamed, although they may be called insensible.

Explain the difference between external goods, goods of the body, and goods of the soul.

3 types of goods according to Aristotle: 1. External goods: goes beyond us, that’s outside of us. 2. Good of the soul: something we are pursuing in rational activities. 3. Goods of the body: good for our health. Taking a shower = rational activity (We care about smelling good). Gym outside of our house = external good. Dancing = good of the soul. Sleeping = good of the body

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