Happiness and morality

Happiness and morality

Philosopher links happiness and morality in upcoming book

by Scott Brinckerhoff – February 4, 2008

One day recently, Paul Bloomfield wondered aloud whether Robinson Crusoe, fiction’s most famous castaway, might have to make moral decisions.

For some philosophers, Bloomfield said, morality has only to do with relations among people, so they would argue that since Crusoe is alone, anything goes.

But Bloomfield, an associate professor of philosophy, subscribes to a different school of thought:

“I believe morality speaks to what sort of person you”re going to be, what sort of life you”re going to live. I think a Robinson Crusoe does have moral decisions to make – does he behave wisely, or recklessly and foolishly? Does he decide to commit suicide? Viewed from afar, would his actions seem cowardly or courageous?”

This year, Bloomfield is a Fellow at the UConn Humanities Institute, writing a book, A Theory of the Good Life, in which he argues, “It’s good to be good and bad to be bad.” While this tenet might sound self-evident, everyday life teems with evidence that not everyone has gotten the message.

Although Bloomfield has written extensively on morality and ethics, the new book will be his first aimed at a lay, rather than an academic, audience.

“I don”t think a theory of morality and the good life should be so sophisticated, so technical, and so complicated that regular folks can”t understand it,” he says. “Moral issues touch all of us.”

A Theory of the Good Life will take the position that happiness and the good life flow from living as morally as possible.

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