Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action

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Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action

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Title: Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action
Author: Tontiplaphol, Don
Citation: Tontiplaphol, Don. 2014. Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: The starting point of the dissertation is a special kind of intentional action -- Aristotelian praxis, or, in a more metaphysical register, energeia -- a kind whose agent's intention in acting must be expressible as the deliverance of one's prohairesis (``deliberate choice''), action that is the embodiment of one's conception of eupraxia (``acting well''), and, equivalently, of eudaimonia (``happiness''). It is special, since not all that we intentionally do can be intelligibly expressed as the deliverance of our conceptions of acting well. Recognition of the gaps between action in general and intentional action more specifically, and between intentional action and prohairetic action, sets the stage for a reinterpretation, not only of core aspects of Aristotle's Ethics, but also of central features of Aristotle's political recommendations. The interpretation defended here centers on the claim that, for Aristotle, defective political communities are often marked, not so much by an erroneous conception of human virtue, but by defective forms of action, forms in which agents fail to apply certain concepts to what they do. Importantly, such failures do not hang on the different failure to apply concepts correctly: the failure to act prohairetically need not come to the failure to grasp the correct conception of human virtue or of human happiness.
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