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Some remarks upon the relationship between the concept of happiness and morality.

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posted on 19.11.2015, 08:49 by David. West
This thesis represents an attempt to dissolve the problem of the relationship between happiness and morality. Morality is often seen as a barrier to the achievement of happiness, and many theories have been created to show that this is not so. Unfortunately most of these theories assume that man acts only in his own interest and therefore attempt to treat morality as a means to happiness. This is held to be a misunderstanding of the nature of morality. The concept of self-interest is examined briefly here and found not to be so self-explanatory as is sometimes thought. For this and other reasons, these theories are rejected. An attempt is then made to generate a different way of viewing human action. To this end, the nature of emotional behaviour is discussed at length, both because it is related to the concept of happiness and because its investigation permits the generation of a methodologically useful concept - the concept of 'importance'. This concept is explained only by a description of its behaviour, for it is to some extent an artificial one, generated to serve a function, although it is held that it is implicit in ordinary language. The concept is used as a bridge between morality and happiness, both of which are discussed in terms of it. It is argued that reasons for human action do not often spring from internal 'forces' or 'states', but from a man's appreciation of what matters in the world. The conclusion of the thesis is difficult to summarise, but depends upon the fact that what matters, may often be what matters morally. Thus, it is held that, for the good man, happiness is inseparable from right action, and that when morality is seen as a barrier to happiness, it is possible that it is either being mis- understood or that the particular form of it is fossilised.


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College of Arts, Humanities and Law

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University of Leicester

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