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Chapter 4 - The Critique of Eudaimonism: Virtue Ethics, Kantianism, and Beyond

from Part II - Morality, Prudence, and Religion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Roe Fremstedal
Affiliation:
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
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Summary

Chapter 4 discusses Kierkegaard’s elusive critique of ethical eudaimonism. It is shown that Kierkegaard develops and radicalizes an influential Kantian critique of eudaimonism, according to which ethical eudaimonism entails egoism and instrumentalism concerning virtue that make morality second to self-interest. In the late twentieth century, discussions of this familiar critique have been renewed by the reemergence of virtue ethics and eudaimonism. Still, many share the worry that eudaimonism involves an objectionable egoism and instrumentalism concerning virtue. Although Kierkegaard’s critique of eudaimonism is controversial and more successful against hedonistic eudaimonism (Epicureanism) than Stoicism or Aristotelianism, it still seems largely defensible. At least, reconstructions indicate that genuine (noninstrumental) other-regard is incompatible with eudaimonism’s focus on personal happiness (eudaimonia) as the highest good. Kierkegaard thus seems to succeed in weakening ethical eudaimonism and in developing a noneudaimonistic view that is broadly Kantian.

Type
Chapter
Information
Kierkegaard on Self, Ethics, and Religion
Purity or Despair
, pp. 75 - 92
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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