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|The Ethics of Living Well
|Moore, Joseph Carter
|Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
|In this dissertation, I propose a novel form of eudaimonist normative ethical theory. Eudaimonism holds that living well, or human flourishing, is the ultimate end of ethical action and institutions. I argue that to live well is to successfully engage in valuable activities that one values. And I outline a theory of ethically good actions and institutions that enable living well. In Chapter 1, I argue that traditional virtue-ethical conceptions of living well are at odds with eudaimonism. Character virtues are not plausible ultimate ends because they are instrumentally, rather than finally, beneficial. Intellectual virtues are not reasonable ultimate ends because not everyone can simultaneously develop and exercise these virtues. In Chapter 2, I clarify the concept of living well, distinguishing it from nearby concepts like living morally, living rationally, being subjectively happy, and having well-being. In Chapters 3-6, I explicate and defend the four necessary conditions of the hybrid value conception of living well: activity, valuing, value, and success. I argue that valuing consists in stably identifying with favoring mental states, and I canvass several compatible metaethical and first-order theories of value. In Chapters 7-10, I respond to objections and argue that other potential conditions like positive subjective experience and virtue are not necessary for living well. Finally, in Chapter 11, I outline a eudaimonist normative ethical theory that includes the domains of prudence, morality, and politics. I argue that we should act so as to create robust conditions of security and discretion in order to enable, but not necessarily cause, flourishing. We do so by socially and politically coordinating general compliance with prosocial norms and laws that include familiar duties of aid and non-interference. I compare and contrast this teleological ethical theory with various forms of consequentialism.
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|Type of Material:
|Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
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