The Virtues of Happiness: A Theory of the Good Life

ISBN : 9780199827367

Paul Bloomfield
272 Pages
147 x 215 mm
Pub date
Jul 2014
Oxford Moral Theory
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As children we learn life is unfair: bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. So, it is natural to ask, "Why play fairly in an unfair world? If being immoral will get you what you want and you know you can't get caught, why not do it?" The answers, as argued herein, begin with the idea that morality and happiness are not in competition. If this is so, then we can see how immorality undermines its perpetrator's happiness: self-respect is necessary for happiness, and immorality undermines self-respect. As we see how our self-respect is conditional upon how we respect others, we learn to evaluate and value ourselves, and others, appropriately. The central thesis is the result of combining the ancient Greek conception of happiness (eudaimonia) with a modern conception of self-respect. We become happy, we life the best life we can, only by becoming virtuous: by being as courageous, fair, temperate, and wise as can be. These are the virtues of happiness. This book explains why it is bad to be bad and good to be good, and what happens to people's values as their practical rationality develops.


Chapter I: Getting Our Bearings
1. The Problem
2. The Diagnosis
3. The Solution
4. Common Dialectical Ground
5. The Argument from Ontology
6. The Argument from Epistemology
7. Objections and Conclusion
Chapter II: Becoming Good
1. The Paradox of Happiness
2. The Most Important Thing in the World
3. Taking Care of Yourself
4. Beyond the Paradox of Happiness
5. Developmental Practical Rationality
6. Immorality as Immaturity
Chapter III: Why It's Good To Be Good
1. Human Nature and the Good Life
2. Pleasure, Mood, and Self-Fulfillment
3. Virtue
4. Courage: Managing Danger
5. Justice: Judging Fairly
6. Temperance: Tempering Mettle
7. Virtue, Luck, and Happiness
8. Benefits of Morality
9. Love is its Own Reward
10. Wisdom

About the author: 

Paul Bloomfield is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Moral Reality (OUP 2001) and editor of Morality and Self-Interest (OUP 2008).

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