The Virtue of Simplicity

Abstract
In this paper we explore material simplicity, defined as the virtue disposing us to act appropriately within the sphere of our consumer decisions. Simplicity is a conscientious and restrained attitude toward material goods that typically includes (1) decreased consumption and (2) a more conscious consumption; hence (3) greater deliberation regarding our consumer decisions; (4) a more focused life in general; and (5) a greater and more nuanced appreciation for other things besides material goods, and also for (6) material goods themselves. It is to be distinguished from simple-mindedness, a return to nature, or poverty. Simplicity overlaps with traditional virtues such as temperance, frugality, and wisdom, and sustains and enables traditional virtues such as justice and generosity. Simplicity is a virtue because it furthers human flourishing, both individual and social, and sustains nature’s ecological flourishing. For analytic purposes, we consider six areas in which simplicity can make important contributions: (1) basic individual flourishing, (2) basic societal flourishing, (3) individual freedom or autonomy, (4) the acquisition of knowledge, (5) living meaningfully, and (6) preserving and protecting nonhuman beings. The proven failure of materialism to secure subjective happiness or objective flourishing argues for the practice of voluntary simplicity and for the radical reform of modern consumer societies
Keywords Simplicity  Consumption  Temperance  Virtue
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,802
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Philip Cafaro (1998). Less is More. Philosophy Today 42 (1):26-39.

View all 12 references

Citations of this work BETA
Jason Kawall (2011). Future Harms and Current Offspring. Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (1):23-26.
Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-06-22

Total downloads

68 ( #22,865 of 1,099,741 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #126,683 of 1,099,741 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.