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Overview of ETHICS - Overview A ll human activities aim at...

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Overview A ll human activities aim at some end that we consider good. Most activities are a means to a higher end. The highest human good, then, is that activity that is an end in itself. That good is happiness. When we aim at happiness, we do so for its own sake, not because happiness helps us realize some other end. The goal of the Ethics is to determine how best to achieve happiness. This study is necessarily imprecise, since so much depends on particular circumstances. Happiness depends on living in accordance with appropriate virtues. Virtue is a disposition rather than an activity. That is, a virtuous person is naturally disposed to behave in the right ways and for the right reasons, and to feel pleasure in behaving rightly. Virtue is a mean state between the extremes of excess and deficiency. This mean varies from person to person, so there are no hard and fast rules as to how best to avoid vice. Only voluntary actions are praiseworthy or blameworthy. We can define voluntary action as any action that originates in the agent and not in some outside force like a push or a stumble. There are borderline cases, however, as when someone is compelled to behave dishonorably under severe threat. Voluntary action is characterized by rational deliberation and choice, where the agent
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