more from Gilbert Harman

Single Idea 5121

[catalogued under 22. Metaethics / C. The Good / 1. Goodness / d. Good as virtue]

Full Idea

Basing ethics on human flourishing tends towards utilitarianism or consequentialism; actions, character traits, laws, and so on are to be assessed with reference to their contributions to human flourishing.


'Flourishing' translates the Greek word 'eudaimonia'

Gist of Idea

Basing ethics on flourishing makes it consequentialist, as actions are judged by contributing to it


Gilbert Harman (Human Flourishing, Ethics and Liberty [1983], 9.2.2)

Book Reference

Harman,Gilbert: 'Explaining Value and Other Essays' [OUP 2000], p.156

A Reaction

This raises the question of whether only virtue can contribute to flourishing, or whether a bit of vice might be helpful. This problem presumably pushed the Stoics to say that virtue itself is the good, rather than the resulting flourishing.