When you shout at a passer-by in the street, and ask him what would be the most important goal in his life, he is likely to answer, like a majority of people that he wants to live happily. Then, we should raise the question: how could we achieve this happiness? More than two thousand years ago, the forerunners of the Greek Philosophy, Plato and more predominantly Aristotle, have introduced the claim of virtue ethics and the concept of eudaimonia which helped to demonstrate the link between virtues and human flourishing. Indeed, the Greek word eudaimonia can be translated as ‘happiness' or ‘human flourishing'. For this essay, I would rather use the designation human flourishing as happiness seems a bit too vague and inaccurate. But let us get back to our real aim: is there a link between virtue and human flourishing? And if so, how do virtues affect human flourishing?
[...] On the other hand, from Irwin's work, Aristotle also believes that human flourishing is the goal which must be pursued by everyone, and that one's activities must be angled towards a sole aim: human flourishing. Thus, he qualifies this state as eudaimonia, and considers that the virtues are the best way to promote it. That is the reason why Aristotle goes on saying that flourish, you should acquire and practise the virtues'. From this point of view, it seems obvious that in the first place we need virtues as we cannot fully flourish without them. [...]
[...] Thus, there is a connection between virtues, society and human flourishing. Let us focus on generosity. As we are naturally social human beings, we all want to be loved, to make friends, to be trusted by others. Thus, the virtuous person is going to do good deeds, which is going to be pleasurable for others, but also for himself. The same account can be made for honesty, benevolence, self- respect or others. Consequently, we need a life in society to reach one's moral maturation, and to fit in the society, we need to be virtuous. [...]
[...] In fact, is a mistake to claim that the virtuous person's motivation is egoistic because it is aimed at her flourishing and not mine. She aims at her flourishing and not mine just in the sense that she is living her life and not mine'. Besides, it is also a mistake in the sense that a good action benefits the one who enjoys it whatsoever. Thus, the assumption telling that human flourishing must be specified independently of the practise of virtues entails discussed objections. [...]
[...] In the last part of the essay, we can view the relationship between virtues and human flourishing through different approaches. First, let us study Julia Driver's point. She sees virtues as a means to correct the flaws of human beings. In fact, she explains that virtues may correct anything that could be bad for mankind, like temptations or cowardice, and that in this way they contribute to our flourishing. Philippa Foot also endorses this thesis in Virtues and Vices, making clear that virtues could offset our lake of prudence. Furthermore, Hare came out with another claim linking utilitarianism and the way we cultivate the virtues. [...]
[...] Hume's theory of moral luck does not tell us anything about human flourishing in itself; nevertheless it introduces a new concept in the relationship between virtues and human flourishing. Indeed, if moral luck is a key part of the virtues' establishment, it consequently affects human flourishing. To conclude, I have showed that there is a relationship between the application of the virtues and the flourishing that follows from. That is why, to a certain extent and to the certain limitations I have evoked, Aristotle's claim is the more plausible to me: the virtues are obviously needed to flourish. [...]
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