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Aristotle: Why, for Aristotle, must there be a highest or "chief" good? How does he claim this is "happiness"?


Why, for Aristotle, must there be a highest or "chief" good? How does he claim this is "happiness"? How does Aristotle argue that the happy life cannot be one of "pleasant amusements" (as both the many and the tyrant, according to Aristotle, hold)? Why, according to him, must it instead be one of contemplation, rather than even virtuous action? To put it another way, why does he see the philosopher as more truly happy than even the just man (or the temperate man, or the brave man)? What's the limitation, for the human, on realizing this highest and truest happiness?


According to Kant, "Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world, or even out of it, which can be called good without qualification, except a Good Will."  He contrasts this what was "so unconditionally praised by the ancients", namely, "moderation...self-control and calm deliberation".

He continues, on the next page, "to develop the notion of a will which deserves to be highly esteemed for itself and is good without a view to anything further", and says that this notion "exists already in the sound natural understanding," and needs "rather to be cleared up than to be taught," and that "in estimating the value of our actions always takes the first place". In illustrating this, Kant makes the (famous) distinction between actions that are done only according to duty (though not from it), and actions that are done from duty (as well as according to it). Equivalently, this is a distinction between actions done "as duty requires...but not because duty requires" them.

Kant tries to make this distinction clear by taking up three cases of beneficent action. Can you explain how Kant judges the moral worth of each case? What keeps one of them from having any moral worth, and what makes one of the other two have more moral worth than the other? What are the two sources of action, according to Kant, that he uses to make his judgments? What do you see as the possible plus side of Kant's total emphasis, in determining goodness, on volition, rather than on outcomes, desires, or purposes? What is the possible down side of this emphasis? 


What, according to Mill, is the principle that is the foundation of morals in utilitarianism? And what does he say is the theory of life on which this theory of morality is grounded? What's the common objection to all this that Mill immediately describes? How does he respond to it? In this response, he then distinguishes between how utilitarians have in general made it, and how it could be made instead: what are the two different ways? How does he then develop the other way of responding to the charge made against utilitarianism? How does this lead to his saying, "It is better to be a human being dissatisfies than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied"? Note what he says immediately after this. Are you convinced, and why or why not, or maybe better, to what degree yes and to what degree no, and why? Does Mill's introduction of quality into the assessment of happiness undercut the original principle of utilitarianism, and how and/or how not?  

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