Midterm: February 6th
• Optional essay topics: refer more to the midterm test notes
• Last of the topics is about Buddhist topics
Which approach gives more of a value of the view of Aristotle
o Topic of selfhood -> have talked about weakness of will and doing the thing that
we need to do
o Metaphysical topic : what is the self?
What constitutes my being me? Is there a particular set of rules?
Virtue based ideas of Plato and Aristotle
• Abstract good:
Question of whether you would really be yourself if you merged
with the good
Plato: if you transcend the virtue, your identity may be different
o Instrumentalist view of the virtues would be that virtues are only good for what
they bring in the way of benefits
o Pytagoras's account in that they contribute to social issues
o Looked like his underlying view, all of the value consists in what they are
o Could be overall happiness or our happiness, efficiency, general happiness
• Would the virtues be worth having?
• Virtues may be important and things that everyone to have, may still be
instrumental in their value
• The usual view of Aristotle is that he disagrees, that he believes that
some virtues have value for their own sake
o A little life pleasure, like an ice cream cone, are not pursued for pleasures
• Only way to justify or explain having the ice cream cone would be for its
Some intrinsic values are not that important
Idea of pleasures being important or not -> are they
o Intrinsic value: Something that is good for its own sake
• Is this also true of the virtues?
• Virtues somehow bring happiness
• There is an op]en question of what he means, does he mean that we
cultivate virtues because they lead to happiness?
Or does having the virtues mean that there is happiness?
• They may have happiness in themselves
o Good is ambiguous
• Is it good because it is good in itself
• Or is it good because it leads us to other things?
• Is it good because of its instrumentality?
• Important is usefully broad, can talk about important beliefs, landmarks,
Is something instrumentally valuable to improve lives
Or is it important because it is true and it is a truth that someone
has not seen before?
If it's important in that sense, are we really talking about ethics?
• Good in regards of beliefs or efforts • Roughly speaking, when talking about means to ends, we are talking
about things with potential instrumental value
• When we are talking about ends, they are the goals to which we are
Ends have something of intrinsic value
One reason why Plato was on the right track by using the phrase
of "the good" it made it easier to understand when an 'end' was an
We value the end really because it leads to something else
• Let's say in society, our policy makers value productivity, as a means or
• Productive for the sake of being productive?
• Productivity in the narrow sense, if you increase productivity as a means
to an end
Is it intrinsically valuable?
• Economic growth just means that there is more money and
resources per person, they can spend on whatever they want
• We don't know what people want so they're not