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Non-Eudaimonism, The Sufficiency of Virtue for Happiness, and Two Senses of the  Highest Good in Descartes’s Ethics
Stockholm Univ, Stockholm, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0736-0792
2015 (English)In: British Journal for the History of Philosophy, ISSN 0960-8788, E-ISSN 1469-3526, Vol. 23, no 2, 277-296 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In his reflections on ethics, Descartes distances himself from the eudaimonistic tradition in moral philosophy by introducing a distinction between happiness and the highest good. While happiness, in Descartes's view, consists in an inner state of complete harmony and satisfaction, the highest good instead consists in virtue, i.e. in 'a firm and constant resolution' (e.g. CSMK: 325/AT 5: 83) to always use our free will well or correctly. In Section 1 of this paper, I pursue the Cartesian distinction between happiness and the highest good in some detail. In Section 2, I discuss the question of how the motivation to virtue should be accounted for within Descartes's ethical framework. In Section 3, I turn to Descartes's defence of the view that virtue, while fundamentally distinct from happiness, is nevertheless sufficient for obtaining it. In the final section of the paper (Section 4), my concern is instead with a second and sometimes neglected distinction that Descartes makes between two different senses of the highest good. I show that this distinction does not remove the non-eudaimonistic character of Descartes's ethics suggested in Section 1, and present two reasons for why the distinction is important for Descartes's purposes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 23, no 2, 277-296 p.
Keyword [sv]
eudaimonism, ethics, Descartes, virtue, happiness, the highest good
National Category
Philosophy Ethics History of Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-140128DOI: 10.1080/09608788.2014.982508ISI: 000350654900004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-140128DiVA: diva2:1145980
Available from: 2017-10-01 Created: 2017-10-01 Last updated: 2017-10-04

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
  • rtf