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Philosophy 34-129 Midterm: Extended Notes for Midterm 1

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University of Windsor
Mark Letteri

Aristotle (P.50-56) • Born in Stagira (384-322 B.C., died at 62) • To understand happiness, it is necessary to understand the natural purpose or function of humans (activity according to reasons) • Happiness is a virtue where virtues are habits and traits that allow people to live well in communities and true happiness is not a pleasure • Happiness is not found in wealth although having a happy life requires some wealth which brings pleasure • Moral virtues can best understood as a mean between extremes Happiness and Good Life • Every art and every scientific inquiry (every action and purpose) may be said to ain at some good; however results are various • What is the highest of all practical goods? • “to live well” or “to do well” is the same thing as “to be happy” • Some philosophers believe that there is an absolute good which is the cause of goodness in them all • Men’s conception of the good or of happiness may be read in the lives they lead • Three types of life: the sensual, the political, the life of thought • Energetic people identify happiness with honour, thus general end of political life • Virtue is better than honour; look at virtue as the end of political life rather than honour • The life of money making is a life of constraint and wealth is obviously not the good we are in quest • Sensual pleasure, honour, and virtue as ends than wealth, since they are things desired in their account • Since there are more than one ends (we desire as means to something else), it is evident not all are final ends • The highest end = the object we are in search = the most final end • The final end is always desired for itself and never as a means to something else • The final end = happiness whereas honour, pleasure, intelligence, and every virtue we desire partly for their own sakes, but partly also as means to happiness • The best way of arriving happiness will probably be to ascertain the function of man • The active life of the rational part of man’s being: o In a sense of being obedient to reason o In the sense of possessing and exercising reason and intelligence • The function of man is activity of soul in accordance with reason, or not apart from reason • Pleasure is a state of mind • Happiness is then the best and noblest and pleasantest thing in the world • However happiness requires the addition of external goods, impossible or at least difficult to do noble deeds with no outsides means • Happiness needs prosperity of this kind in addition to virtue • Happiness demands a complete virtue and a complete life • A person who died a miserable death =  • If activities determine the quality of life, no happy man can become miserable • A happy man = active with perfect virtue and adequately furnished with external goods • Consider virtue as the best way of studying happiness Virtue and the Mean • Virtue is: partly intellectual and partly moral • Intellectual virtue is originated and fostered mainly by teaching, thus demands experience and time • Moral virtue is the outcome of habit • Cause and means by which any virtue is produced and destroyed are the same • It is by our actions in dealing between man and man that we become either just or unjust • It is our duty to keep a certain character in our activities, since our moral states depend on our actions • We must consider the right way of performing actions, for it is to determine the character of the resulting moral states • Making the correct decision is a common general principle • A person who avoids and is afraid of everything and faces nothing becomes a coward, and vice versa, a foolhardy • Someone who enjoys every pleasure is licentious; he who refuses all pleasures is an insensible person • Moral virtue is more accurate and better than any art, therefore will aim at the mean • The characteristics of virtue (the mean/the supreme good): o Doing the right thing at the right time in the right situation towards the right person for the right causes in the right manner • Virtue is concerned with emotions and actions and excess is an error and deficiency at fault, whereas the mean is successful and laudable and success and merit are both characteristics of virtue • There are 3 dispositions o Two vices: excess and deficiency and one virtue • Why is it so hard to be good? It is always hard to find the mean (happiness) in anything Aristotle • Teleology  purposes; goals you pursue • Goods: highest and contributing o Politics: how we live together in a community • Happiness: you find happiness in the world with others, highest attainable by action; is what humans aim for • Human nature o Vegetative  animals have the power to movements o Animal  a higher level of the plants, can’t be happy (a child can’t be happy because he/she is under developed) o Rational  humans are capable to be rationalized • Proper function of the human being  action in according rational • Happiness is the highest good • Types of goods o External (ex. Your iPod, computer; they contribute to your happiness) o Soul (ex. Everything in your mind that you can use to pursue your happiness, one’s characteristics) o Body (ex. Health) • Virtue or excellence: possession or practice? (ex. Two people sleeping, you can’t tell who’s evil or good physically; Aristotle emphasized actions) • Types of Virtues o Intellectual / teaching  Theoretical wisdom, understanding, practical wisdom (enough rationale to be able to use in certain situation)  Rules = general; situations = specific o Moral / habituation (Aristotle emphasized on how you usually behave.)  Generosity (balance of excess and deficiency) , self- control etc. • Excess, deficiency, balance Thomas Hobbes (P. 1-8) • Born in 1588 (died at 91) • Emphasized the need of security was the foundation of society and the basis of political obligation • Lived during a difficult period of English history, died just before constitutional government won its final victory • Served as a tutor for Charles II • Suspected of atheism and rejected the divine basis of political authority • He believed that God is beyond rational understanding; we can only know he exists as the first cause of the universe • Most famous work, Leviathan, published in 1651 • Argued that the world (including human beings) is composed of material particles • Minds are therefore no different from bodies; human “motion” such as walking, speaking, and other acts is caused by our desires, appetites, and aversions • Discussed how reason and the human condition induce people to leave a “state of nature” • Morality is a form of convention; without an agreement and the threat of harm imposed by the sovereign, there can be neither morality nor justice • Power and threats are the necessary bases of all obligations Of Man • Good. Evil. o Any man’s appetite or desire = good o His hate and aversion = evil o His contempt = vile and inconsiderable • Deliberation  sum of desires, aversions, hopes and fears continued till the thing either be done, or thought possible • The Will  the last appetite or aversion, immediately adhering to the action, or to the omission thereof • Felicity  continual success in obtaining those things which a men desire from time to time o No such thing as perpetual tranquility of mind because life can never be without desire nor fear Men by Nature Equal • Men are equal in the faculties of the body and mind • Strength of body, weakest has enough strength to kill the strongest, either by secret machination, or by confederacy with others • Mind is a greater equality than strength From Equality Proceeds Diffidence • If two men desire the same thing, they become enemies From Diffidence War • No way for any man to secure himself • One only takes pleasure and pursues farther than their security requires, if not, should not by invasion increase their power • Three principal causes of quarrel: competition for gain (uses violence), diffidence for safety (to defend), glory for reputation (for trifles) • Men without a common power = war • Every man against every man • The nature of war o Consist not in battle only/the act of fighting; but in a tract of time o Not consist of the actual fighting • All other time is PEACE The Incommodities of Such a War • Man without other security, their own strength and invention will furnish them • Man who does not war, arms himself and seek for companions In Such a War Nothing is Unjust • No such thing as right and wrong and justice and injustice • No common power, no law; no law, no justice • No justice or injustice in the body or mind. If they were, man would be alone, as well as his senses and passions The Passions that Incline Men to Peace  Fear of Death Right of Nature  the liberty each man has, to do anything with his own judgment and reason Liberty  the absence of external impediments Law of Nature  a precept or general rule according to reasons 1. Fundamental Law of Nature  every man has right to everything • If this right endures, there can be no security to any man • Every man ought to endeavour peace, as long as he has hope to obtain it. If he can’t obtain it, he may seek and use all the help and advantages of war 2. Second Law of Nature • As long as everyone holds their rights, they are in the condition of war • Whenever a man makes voluntary acts, the objective is some good to himself (seeking for benefits) 3. Third Law of Nature • Men perform their covenants made Of Commonwealth • To have a common power is to defend themselves from invasion of foreigners • Definition  giving your rights to a certain person and follow his actions (ex. God  we owe God our peace and defence) • A freeman can do what he desires to do without stopping • Fear and liberty are consistent: for fear of law, are actions which liberty has to omit • Liberty and necessity are consistent: actions that men voluntarily do, he does at will (liberty), because there is a cause to his actions that he felt it was necessary Hobbes • Scientific/mechanistic view o Attraction/repulsion • Value/worth: measured humanly o Good: whatever we desire o Bad: whatever we avoid o Vile: whatever we find contemptible • Felicity: prospering • “By nature, people are more or less equal” says Hobbes. o Every individual presents in principle a physical danger o Every individual presents in principle a strategic danger • Mother nature = people are fundamentally selfish (wanting to get what they want) • Natural equality prompts hope for gain: fighting/”quarrel” o Competition (people fight for what they want) o Diffidence (lack of self-confidence; people are insecure) o Glory • “We don’t live in a civil state, we live in a state of war” because people are naturally selfish • “The state of nature is the state of war.” = Nothing is right or wrong. • Self-preservation = right of nature = everyone’s fundamental interest • A “civil state” with a common power to impose order versus a “state of war” • War involves “incommodities” • Nothing is wrong in a state of war because no law exists to separate “mind” and “thine” • In a state of war, we have a natural right to preserve and enhance our interests and we see fit • Human beings are both self-interested and rational • Long-term (rational) self-interest calls for the constraint of individual liberty by a common power that imposes order, security, and peace • A peaceful civil state enables individuals to pursue their interests more effectively • Fear and liberty are consistent • Selfish alone in people = permanent state of war • Don’t go against the common power, because the common power keeps you at liberty on certain things (the common power might be the government) Immanuel Kant (P. 56-65) • Lived his entire life in Konigsberg, born in 1724, died in 1804 • Never married and was a man of remarkable organization and regularity of habits • Rejects: 1) Aristotle who believed it is necessary to study closely human psychology and the nature of human happiness in order to understand morality 2) Utilitarians who believe sentiment and feeling are the root of morality • Argues that duty is based solely on reason; one must not just act in accordance with duty, but also act for duty’s sake • Kant believed that one must perform an act unless he/she can consistently will or intend • Categorical Imperative constitutes the heart of the distinction between right and wrong 1) An action is right if it conforms to a moral rule that anyone must follow if he/she is acting rationally 2) One must act to treat people as ends in themselves, never as means The Good Will • Nothing can possibly be conceiving the world, or even out of it, which can be called good without qualification, except a good will • A good will appears to constitute the indispensable condition even of being worthy of happiness • Moderation in affections and passions, self-control, and calm deliberation are not only good, they seem to constitute part of the intrinsic worth of the person, but far from deserving to be called good with qualification • A good will is good because it is good in itself (simply by virtue of the volition) and considered by itself is to be esteemed much higher than all can be brought • It would shine by it own light • Its usefulness or fruitlessness can neither add to nor take away anything from its value The First Proposition of Morality • We have to develop the notion will which deserves to be highly esteemed for itself and is good without a view to anything further • People preserve their life as duty requires, but not because duty requires • If someone wishes for death, yet preserves his life without loving it, then his maxim has a moral worth • To be beneficent when we can is a duty o Find a pleasure in spreading joy around • There is no true moral worth • Such actions can be done from duty, not from inclination • Love cannot be commanded, but beneficence for duty’s sake The Second and Third Propositions of Morality • An action is done from duty derives its moral worth, not from the purpose, thus does not depend on the realization of the object of the action, but on the principle of volition that action has taken place, regardless of desire • Duty is the necessity of acting from respect for the law • The moral worth of an action does not lie in the results, nor in any principle of action which requires to borrow its motive from this result • The pre-eminent good (moral) can thus consist in nothing else than the conception of law in itself, which certainly is only possible in a rational being The Supreme Principle of Morality: The Categorical Imperative • It is the simple conformity to law in general, without assuming any particular law applicable to certain actions, that serves the will as its principle • A universal maxim  to make a habit to promise nothing except with the intention of keeping • Such maxim will only be based on the fear of consequences (ex. lying should be a universal law because there would be no promises at all) Imperatives: Hypothetical and Categorical • Everything in nature works according to laws • The will is nothing but practical reason • Imperatives command either hypothetically or categorically o Hypothetically  represent the practical necessarity of a possible action as means to something else that is willed (action is good only as means to something else) o Categorical  represent an action as necessary of itself without reference to another end (consequently as being necessarily the principle of a will which of itself conforms to reason) First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative: Universal Law  act only on the maxim when you can and that should become a universal law Four Illustration 1) A man reduced to despair by misfortunes of life, but is still far in possession of his reason to ask himself if it is against his duty to suicide • Ask whether this principle founded on self-love can become a universal law of nature • Cannot be exist as a universal law of nature 2) Another needs money right now, he knows he cannot repay it, but nothing will be lent to him unless he promises to pay back • Ask if this action became a universal law, what would happen? • No one will trust him after 3) One finds a talent that he/she has which helps him/her in many ways, but he doesn't want to develop this talent. He asks, if neglecting this natural gift, besides agreeing with his inclination to indulgence, would this still be called a duty? • Not a universal law of nature • He can do whatever he wants with it 4) A man sees another in need, thinking should he help him? He thinks there would be no benefit to him so he didn't help • This can be a universal law of nature but it is not a good, valid one • We must be able to will that a maxim of our action should be a universal law Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative: Humanity as end it itself • The will is conceived as a faculty of determining oneself to action according to the conception of certain laws • The worth of any object which is to be acquired by our action is always conditional • Non-rational beings  things; rational being  persons • Subject ends  existence has a worth for us as an effect of our action • Objective ends  things whose existence is an end in itself • Foundation of this principle is: rational nature exists as an end in itself • Practical imperative: so act as to treat humanity, whether to self or to others, never as means only The Kingdom of Ends • Kingdom  the union of different rational beings in a system by common laws • A rational being belongs as a member to the kingdom of ends although he is himself subject to these laws • A rational being must always regard himself as
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