Flourishing: The Central Concept of Practical Thought

Richard Kraut

in Pursuing the Good

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748628117
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652488 | DOI:
Flourishing: The Central Concept of Practical Thought

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This chapter defends the theses that what is good for someone is a constituent or contributor to that person's flourishing, and proposes a second thesis as well: all practical justification depends, in some way or other, on a conception of what it is for someone to flourish. Properly understood, then, Plato's doctrine of the sovereignty of good is correct. This entails that there is something misguided in Kantian ethical theories. Their opposition to utilitarianism is to be applauded, but they throw out the baby with the bathwater. They properly reject the thesis that we must maximize something, but their elevation of rightness over goodness is based on a misunderstanding of what goodness is.

Keywords: Plato; sovereignty of good; Kantian ethics; flourishing

Chapter.  7192 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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