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Pursuing the GoodEthics and Metaphysics in Plato's Republic$
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Douglas Cairns and Fritz-Gregor Herrmann

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748628117

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748628117.001.0001

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Flourishing: The Central Concept of Practical Thought

Flourishing: The Central Concept of Practical Thought

(p.154) 7 Flourishing: The Central Concept of Practical Thought
Pursuing the Good

Richard Kraut

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter defends the theses that what is good for someone is a constituent or contributor to that person's flourishing, and proposes a second thesis as well: all practical justification depends, in some way or other, on a conception of what it is for someone to flourish. Properly understood, then, Plato's doctrine of the sovereignty of good is correct. This entails that there is something misguided in Kantian ethical theories. Their opposition to utilitarianism is to be applauded, but they throw out the baby with the bathwater. They properly reject the thesis that we must maximize something, but their elevation of rightness over goodness is based on a misunderstanding of what goodness is.

Keywords:   Plato, sovereignty of good, Kantian ethics, flourishing

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