Aristotle's eudaimonism and the rivalry between egoism and altruism
Kieffer, Robert J
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In this dissertation, I explore the variety of interpretations that have been given on Aristotle and the debate between ethical egoism and ethical altruism. It can be phrased as the "For Whom" question of ethics in the sense of asking: whose good or happiness ( eudaimonia ) should be one's main or final goal in ethics, that of self or others? In Aristotle this debate especially centers on his philosophy of friendship ( philia ), and the meaning of his claims that a friend is another self. I begin by looking at the ideas of those who do not believe terms like "egoism" or "altruism" can be used with Aristotle, and from their critique I develop basic working definitions of egoism and altruism that can apply to Aristotle's discourse. Then I look at the wide spectrum of interpretations, beginning with traditional egoistic eudaimonism--those viewpoints that defend the traditional view that Aristotle's ethics is one of ethical egoism. From there, I move to views that uphold parts of the egoistic view but also argue that there is legitimate altruism or other-regard in Aristotle. Explorations of forms of altruistic elements continue through impersonal and personal views all the way to collective and citizenship or civic altruism. Exploring the strengths and weaknesses of the variety of positions, I then move to altruistic eudaimonism, theories which hold Aristotle's ethics to be just as much or even more so one of altruism than egoism. Finally, in the last three chapters, I use Aristotle's own archer analogy as an interpretive tool to help construct an alternative, middle ground interpretation that seeks to pull from the strong points of the previous interpretations. Following construction of the possible alternative view, I apply it to the various issues and problems involved in the "For Whom" debate on Aristotle, especially the issues of: other-selves, self-love, contemplation, and the noble ( kalon ; fineness or nobility).