in Virtue and Happiness

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199646043
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191743368 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy


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The two most prominent modern theories of practical rationality, the Humean and the Kantian, both fall prey to what Sidgwick calls ‘the fundamental dualism of practical rationality’. Hume subordinates morality to inclination and Kant subordinates inclination to morality, and never the twain shall meet. We will do better by starting with a eudaimonist theory of morality and practical reason, which does not engender Sidgwick's dualism. Instead of a tension within practical reason between morality (the general or social point of view) and self-interest (egoism), we get a tension within the virtue of justice or dikaiosyne between self-regarding and other-regarding considerations. Starting from here, the justification of morality in the face of self-interested egoism becomes a possibility, given that a naturalistic and yet moralized conception of phronesis (practical rationality or prudence) makes it partly constitutive of eudaimonia (happiness or the Good Life).

Keywords: practical rationality; happiness; Hume; Kant; Sidgwick; naturalism; wisdom

Chapter.  10036 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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