Ethical Behavior According to Mill, Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Here, Aristotle recognizes the variances which appear
to define our establishment of the means to pursuing happiness, musing that
"the characteristics that are looked for in happiness seem also, all of
them, to belong to what we have defined happiness as being. For some
identify happiness with virtue, some with practical wisdom, others with a
kind of philosophic wisdom, others with these, or one of these, accompanied
by pleasure or not without pleasure; while others include also external
prosperity." (Aristotle, I: 8) Aristotle uses this as a divining rod for
dissecting the various relationships which are perpetuated amongst
individuals. His argument engages in the dialectical process to discern
that which is 'good' apart from that which is 'evil' or 'neutral.' Through
such an engagement, he achieves a satisfactorily defended notion of 'good':
"Aristotle identifies the distinctively human phenomenon of
action arising from reason as the function of the human being:
'Now we take the human function to be a certain kind of life,
and take this life to be the soul's activity and actions that
express reason.' (1098a 11-14). The good person is taken to be
that person who lives and acts in accordance with reason (as
opposed to, say, feelings or whims). Such a person will aim at
fine, right actions - human virtues - thus excelling as a human
being" (Thunder, 1)
It is here that Aristotle anticipates the need for a qualification of
morality that, like Mill's ideas, is based upon rationality. The need for
a rational participation in social order and positive interpersonal
relationships produces what the thinker would define as the parameters for
good and evil, and thus for the navigation of ethical behavior.
The resolving view espoused here is that the ethical attention to
one's duty is the fulfillment of that which is 'right,' forces one to
acknowledge that there are a full range of possibilities in the concession
to moral impropriety. It is to this end that thinkers such as Kant find a
potential danger in moral pragmatism. He points out that the pursuit of
the greatest possible degree and pervasion of happiness is an approach
which could be susceptible to deviations in standards. Indeed, Mill and
Aristotle alike seem to endorse the fact that this is inevitable. However,
to judge this negatively is to conflate the outcomes expressed by McNickle
and Eliot which respectively portray the dangers of extreme ethical
uniformity and a cessation from all ethical consideration in defining human
happiness. Balance and pragmatism, it should seem, must be naturally
tempered by a clear sense of the rational relationship between happiness
and ethically 'good' behavior.

Works Cited
Eliot, G. (1872). Middlemarch. Penguin Classics.
McNickle, D. (1936). Surrounded. University of New Mexico Press.
Rachels, James. (1993). The Utilitarian Approach. The Elements of Moral
Philosophy, pg. 91-101. New York: McGraw Hill.

Rachels, James. (1993). Kant and Respect for Persons. The Elements of
Moral Philosophy, pg. 127-138. New York: McGraw Hill.

Thunder, David. (1996). Friendship in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: An
essential component of the Good Life. The Philosophy…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited
Eliot, G. (1872). Middlemarch. Penguin Classics.
McNickle, D. (1936). Surrounded. University of New Mexico Press.
Rachels, James. (1993). The Utilitarian Approach. The Elements of Moral
Philosophy, pg. 91-101. New York: McGraw Hill.

Rachels, James. (1993). Kant and Respect for Persons. The Elements of
Moral Philosophy, pg. 127-138. New York: McGraw Hill.

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