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Sophia: An African Journal of Philosophy

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Morality and Happiness

K M Saeed

Abstract




In this article I set out to critically examine an important discussion in recent ethical theory first started by Prichard and pursued by D. Z. Phillips. I try to show that our ethical judgments are inextricably linked with, in fact based upon, our conception of the nature of man. I shall argue that Prichard was making a mistake in assuming that in showing the just life in a man's interest we were ipso facto being supplied with a reason or motives for living that way. What he did see correctly was the acting and living justly could not logically be done from ulterior motives. But there need not be any question of acting from ulterior motives when it is shown that living the just life is man's greatest source of happiness. To show this would mean to show that in considering those activities which a man would derive the greatest happiness and contentment from, we are considering activities central to our conception of what it is to be a man and that such activities constituted as well the basis of our judgment of a man's moral worth. Thus, hedonism leads to a dead end in so far as morality is concerned. It is argue that our moral judgments are necessarily based on our underpinning of our ethical theory.

SOPHIA: An African Journal of Philosophy Vol. 8 (2) 2006: pp. 84-88



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