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Chapter 2 - Virtue, Happiness, and Meaning

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2020

David McPherson
Affiliation:
Creighton University, Omaha
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Summary

I show how the account of strong evaluative meaning developed in Chapter 1 allows us to overcome problems in prominent views among neo-Aristotelians of the relationship of virtue to happiness (e.g., instrumentalist accounts) by enabling us to regard virtue as constitutive of happiness understood as a normatively higher, nobler, more meaningful mode of life, and which I show is in keeping with Aristotle’s own view of eudaimonia. I engage here especially with Philippa Foot, since she has endorsed each of the prominent views I consider throughout her career. In making the case for my constitutive view I also seek to avoid McDowell’s problematic claim that “no sacrifice necessitated by the life of excellence … can count as a genuine loss.” My account of a meaningful life aims to address the problem of loss in human life, which I argue requires us to address the problem of cosmodicy (i.e., the problem of affirming life in the world as worthwhile in the face of evil and suffering). This problem is taken up further in Chapters 4 and 5.

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Virtue and Meaning
A Neo-Aristotelian Perspective
, pp. 44 - 75
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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