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Virtue and Utility - Essay Example

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(Name) (Professor) (Subject) (Date) Virtue and Utility Most of us would not disagree with the notion that happiness is the purpose of all life. Nevertheless, what exactly is happiness and how is it related to the concepts of virtue and pleasure? Is a happy life simply the same as a life of pleasure or is it a life of goodness or virtue?…
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Virtue and Utility

Download file to see previous pages... Aristotle’s and Mill’s philosophies share similarities in terms of application, the greatest good and the requirement for happiness; and they differ when it comes to how happiness can be exactly attained. The philosophies of Aristotle and Mill are similar in that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the situation or on the external circumstances. For Aristotle’s virtue ethics, the basis of moral virtues is action and that “we learn by doing them” (Nicomachean Ethics II.1). This means that virtues are never inborn in man except that “we first acquire the potentiality” of doing these virtuous acts (II.1). However, despite this potentiality, there is a need for action. For Aristotle, therefore, one is never a good man unless he does good deeds. Nobody is born good – one has to do good in order to be called good. The Greek philosopher gives an example in the Ethics when he says, “By doing the acts we do in our transactions with other men we become just or unjust” (II.1). This means that no one can be called just or unjust unless he proves this through his dealings with his fellowmen. In the same way, according to John Stuart Mill, the rightness or wrongness of an act is also based on the situation. ...
both Aristotle’s virtue ethics and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian ethics is both happiness and, as previously mentioned, pleasure is a major element in not only Mill’s philosophy but also in Aristotle’s. However, it is but necessary for us to look into the concept of happiness first before delving into the idea of pleasure. The concepts of happiness for both philosophers are a little different from each other. Happiness, for Aristotle, is the “end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake (everything else being desired for the sake of this)” (Ethics I.2, 7). Aristotle, therefore, gives us a very lofty and strict meaning of happiness – something that is desired as an end in itself. Money, friends and family therefore are not the summum bonum for Aristotle for they are not necessarily desired for themselves but for the for happiness that they can give us. John Stuart Mill has the same attitude towards happiness. For Mill, “The utilitarian doctrine is that happiness is desirable, and the only thing desirable as an end; all other things being only desirable as means to that end” (Utilitarianism IV, 433). Based on the aforementioned statement, it is clear that Mill shares the same sentiments towards happiness as Aristotle does. When it comes to happiness, both Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Mill’s Utilitarianism underline the importance of the nobleness of character in the attainment of the happiness that they have set as their summum bonum. For Aristotle, happiness can only be attained through a virtuous life or the good life and this is defined as “the good and noble performance of [a man’s function which is based on a rational principle]” (Ethics I.7). From this statement of Aristotle’s, one can therefore deduce that not ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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