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Aristotle Theory of Happiness

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1. Kant argues in Section 1 of Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals that every human action is motivated either by a subjective inclination or by an objective sense of duty. Making reference to the text, please explain the difference between the two. Which does Kant believe is the true source of rightness or morality? Finally, based upon this distinction between subjective inclination and objective duty, how do you think Kant would criticize Aristotle's ethical theory?

Both Aristotle and Kant have different view of human good. Kant sees the concept of universal good in categorical imperative as such that the maxim our action could become a universal law of nature without contradiction. While Aristotle more focused at the ultimate good or happiness as the ultimate goal by living virtuously according to golden mean.

In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle mentioned what is considered good by most of us like having friends, experiencing pleasure, being healthy and being honored. Then, he furthered his argument that all goods we pursue are for some other higher good. He said,if we keep questioning ourselves about the goods, it leads us the ultimate good that also known as happiness. It is this reason men always associate happiness with different needs. For instance, when man is poor, he need money for it is will bring happiness. Aristotle believed that there is some form ultimate good that is desirable in itself and not for some other end. Aristotle said that, The good is final and self-sufficient, happiness is defined. He defined happiness or eudaimonia as the highest good that man must pursue by acting according to virtue in his life. Aristotle defined virtue as inclination to act with excellence in every situation. He mentioned that virtue is an excellence or mean between two extreme and it is defined differently for each man according to the situation. Since man is inclined toward the other extreme, man must act in oppose toward the other extreme to achieve the mean. That is why virtue is difficult to obtain and man must do virtues activity continuously in life to attain happiness.

On the other hand, Kant believed that there are some moral laws for rational beings had to obey because they are rational beings. The moral laws Kant believes are based on the concept of pure duty where ramification of the action is not important as the intention of the actions. Thus, in the very beginning of the first section of Groundwork of Metaphysics of Moral, he called that the only good can be called good is good will.

"Nothing can be possibly conceived in the world or even of it, which can be called good, without qualification, except good will."

This is different than Aristotle where the essence of good action is a good will. Other qualities of character like intelligence, courage and wit or good fortune like wealth and good health can be used for to either good or bad purpose. According to Aristotle, happiness is summation of virtues activities that means the result of an action is important in order to achieve happiness. While Kant believed that action is done according to good will is in itself good regardless the consequences either good or bad. Good will is the principle on which the highest moral rest that make the actions possess the greatest moral worth. Kant said this principle must be based on a priori origin. Where action based on inclination of man, it would lead to self-interest. Kant gave example of grocer who gives fair price to everyone not for sake of duty but rather because of competition of other grocers. Kant explained:

"But even in this case, if general desire for happiness did not influence his will, and supposing that in his particular case health was not necessary element in this calculation, there yet remains in this, as in all other cases, this law, namely, that should promote his happiness not from inclination but from duty, and by this would his conduct first acquire true moral truth."

Kant mentioned that securing happiness for man is a duty that has to be done for the sake of duty. The duty must be done according to maxim or principle that served as motivation. Therefore, true value is found in the principle of the action rather than the action itself. Kant held strong on the idea of intention that determine the action where man cannot be blamed for unintentional occurrence like an accident.

All in all, Kant's ethical theory proposes a standard that all rational beings can achieve good in same way. While, Aristotle's ethical theory claimed that good can be achieved after years of living virtuously.

2. In Section 2 of Fundamental Principles, Kant gives us several formulations of the objective moral law that he calls the "Categorical Imperative." The most important formulation commands us to act only in such a way that the maxim of our action could become a universal law of nature without contradiction. Another famous formulation

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