Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning
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Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning
Discuss with your peers:
According to virtue ethics, reflecting on the aims and goods essential to human flourishing (if there are any) can help us understand the virtues we need to fulfill those and the vices that would be detrimental, as well as the corresponding kinds of choices and behaviors. Reflect with your peers on what their account reveals about the virtuous life, whether that conflicts with some of the values and choices common in society, etc.
Engage with the text:
As described by Aristotle, the notion of eudaimonia is the flourishing of happiness and well-being that humans innately possess and should strive towards daily in our actions leading us to the highest human goodness achievable. “We often aim at a good connected to some sort of identity, role, or function; sometimes it has to do with one’s private and personal life, such as one’s interests and hobbies; and sometimes it connects to an overall sense of health and well-being. In such cases, the good choice is the one that helps us to be a good parent or friend, fulfill God’s will for us, promote justice, live healthy, and so on, while the bad choice is one that hinders this goal.” (Thames, 2018. Sec. 5.4). When describing eudaimonia, Aristotle speaks of working at our potential and flourishing in our living through the cultivation and culmination of moral virtues. When investigating the experience machine scenario, I believe Aristotle would disagree with this form of happiness related to eudaimonia. This machine will create happy moments but could never grasp the concept of innate and purposeful happiness that always rests within us. “Then it would stand to reason that someone who is able to experience a constant state of drug-induced high would be the happiest person around; yet we would generally say quite the opposite about such a person, especially when that state involves complete oblivion to the world around them, such as the ravaging of his or her body or the suffering of his or her family as a result of such a condition” (Thames, 2018. Sec. 5.4). Although this quote relates to using drugs to achieve a blissful state, the premise of what the human is feeling is the same.
Reflect on yourself:
As I read the experience machine situation, my mind instantly connected to the 1999 film The Matrix. Similarly, in this film, people lived in a simulated reality that maintained the illusion of living. In my opinion, although ignorance can be quite blissful, the act of it contradicts the notion of flourishing through your potential. With that, I would not hook up to the experience machine. The machine can only produce happy experiences, but eudaimonia is not rooted in experiences. Instead, it is rooted in the essence of living a virtuous, purposeful, and natural life. “Similarly, a flourishing, happy life is one in which a person is actively living in a way that fulfills his or her potential. In this sense, when we are striving for happiness we aren’t striving after some sort of condition whereby we attain it and then stop. Rather, Aristotle’s view of happiness is that of a continuous, ongoing activity” (Thames, 2018. Sec. 5.4).
Reflect on human life:
I do believe that aspects of a telos apply to humanity. But with society’s overstimulated and disconnected lives, we have lost touch with some of the most foundational virtues or maxims that we should carry out in our daily lives. “Some possibilities suggested by philosophers have included living in community, forming relationships, aesthetic appreciation, creativity and play, justice and fairness, authenticity, and spirituality. Whatever account we give of the human telos, happiness will require nurturing and developing the kinds of characteristics needed for these areas of our lives to flourish. That is, happiness is not simply a matter of doing certain things, but being a certain way” (Thames, 2018. Sec. 5.4). In addition to this, I wholeheartedly believe that there is a difference between feeling happy and being happy. It ties back to my first paragraph, where I discuss happy moments vs. happiness.
Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.