What is happiness? How is it related to morality and virtue? Does living with illusion promote or diminish happiness? Is it better to pursue happiness with a partner than alone? Philosopher Mike W. Martin addresses these and other questions as he connects the meaning of happiness with the philosophical notion of "the good life." Defining happiness as loving one's life and valuing it in ways manifested by ample enjoyment and a deep sense of meaning, Martin explores the ways in which (...) happiness interacts with all other dimensions of good lives--in particular with moral decency and goodness, authenticity, mental health, self-fulfillment, and meaningfulness. He interweaves a variety of examples from memoirs, novels, and films along the way, connecting his discussion of the philosophical issues to related topics that interest all of us: virtue, love, philanthropy, suffering, simplicity, balancing work and leisure, and much more. Drawing on wide-ranging and robust evidence, Martin also makes the case that we need a "politics of happiness" whereby government would apply the results of recent "happiness studies" in psychology to public policy. (shrink)
At their best, mottos help us cope by crystallizing attitudes, eliciting resolve, and guiding conduct. Mottos have moral significance when they allude to the virtues and reflect the character of individuals and groups. As such, they function in the moral space between abstract ethical theory and contextual moral judgment. I discuss personal mottos such as those of Isak Dinesen (“I will answer”) and group mottos such as found in social movements (“Think globally, act locally”), professions (“Above all, do no harm”), (...) philosophy (“The personal is political”), and therapeutic groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (“One day at a time”). (shrink)
In “Personality Disorders: Moral or Medical Kinds—or Both?” Peter Zachar and Nancy Nyquist Potter (2010) reject any general dichotomy between morality and mental health, and specifically between character vices and personality disorders. In doing so, they provide a nuanced and illuminating discussion that connects Aristotelian virtue ethics to a multidimensional understanding of personality disorders. I share their conviction that dissolving morality–health dichotomies is the starting point for any plausible understanding of human beings (Martin 2006), but I register some qualms about (...) their discussion of responsibility. Zachar and Potter target the morality-health dichotomy as it appears in Louis C. .. (shrink)
Morality and mental health are now inseparably linked in our view of character. Alcoholics are sick, yet they are punished for drunk driving. Drug addicts are criminals, but their punishment can be court ordered therapy. The line between character flaws and personality disorders has become fuzzy, with even the seven deadly sins seen as mental disorders. In addition to pathologizing wrong-doing, we also psychologize virtue; self-respect becomes self-esteem, integrity becomes psychological integration, and responsibility becomes maturity. Moral advice is now sought (...) primarily from psychologists and therapists rather than philosophers or theologians. In this wide-ranging, accessible book, Mike W. Martin asks: are we replacing morality with therapy, in potentially confused and dangerous ways, or are we creatively integrating morality and mental health? According to him, it's a little bit of both. He surveys the ways in which morality and mental health are related, touching on practical concerns like love and work, self-respect and self-fulfillment, guilt and depression, crime and violence, and addictions. Terming this integrative development "the therapeutic trend in ethics," Martin uses examples from popular culture, various moral controversies, and draws on a line of thought that includes Plato, the Stoics, Freud, Nietzsche, and contemporary psychotherapeutic theories. Martin develops some interesting conclusions, among them that sound morality is indeed healthy, and that moral values are inevitably embedded in our conceptions of mental health. In the end, he shows how both morality and mental health are inextricably intertwined in our pursuit of a meaningful life. This book will be of interest to philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists, as well as the general reader. (shrink)
Creativity in science and engineering has moral significance and deserves attention within professional ethics, in at least three areas. First, much scientific and technological creativity constitutes moral creativity because it generates moral benefits, is motivated by moral concern, and manifests virtues such as beneficence, courage, and perseverance. Second, creativity contributes to the meaning that scientists and engineers derive from their work, thereby connecting with virtues such as authenticity and also faults arising from Faustian trade-offs. Third, morally creative leadership is important (...) at all levels of science and engineering. (shrink)
Moral creativity consists in identifying, interpreting, and implementing moral values in ways that bring about new and morally valuable results, often in response to an unprecedented situation. It does not mean inventing values subjectively, as Sartre and Nietzsche suggested. Moral creativity plays a significant role in meeting role responsibilities, exercising leadership, developing social policies, and living authentically in light of moral ideals. Kenneth R. Feinberg’s service in compensating the victims of 9/11 provides a paradigm instance.
In suggesting that “philanthropy is almost the only virtuewhich is sufficiently appreciated by mankind,” Thoreau did not wish to denigrate charity, but he took offense when even minor Christian leaders were ranked above Newton, Shakespeare, and other creative individuals “who by their lives and works are a blessing to mankind.”1 Such individuals might be motivated primarily by caring for nonmoral goods, such as scientific truth, aesthetic appreciation, or creative achievement. Yet, paradoxically, they often benefit humanity far more than they could (...) have through direct humanitarian service. This creativ- ity paradox has been given less attention than paradoxes of self-interest and altruism, but it contains an important insight about moral motivation. It also forces us to clarify the distinction between moral and nonmoral goods, and hence our conception of what morality is. (shrink)
The study of engineering ethics tends to emphasize professional codes of ethics and, to lesser degrees, business ethics and technology studies. These are all important vantage points, but they neglect personal moral commitments, as well as personal aesthetic, religious, and other values that are not mandatory for all members of engineering. This paper illustrates how personal moral commitments motivate, guide, and give meaning to the work of engineers, contributing to both self-fulfillment and public goods. It also explores some general frameworks (...) for thinking about these commitments and calls for further exploration of them. (shrink)
In this book, Michael Davis, one of the most insightful writers on professional ethics, substantially revises and integrates fifteen of his previously published articles, making them available to a wider audience. Several professions are emphasized: law, engineering, and police work (including international law enforcement). Yet the topics discussed have relevance to all areas of professional ethics: defining professions, the moral authority of professional codes, intelligently interpreting codes, professional autonomy and discretion, dirty hands, and goals in teaching professional ethics.
If we are responsible for taking care of our health, are we blameworthy when we become sick because we failed to meet that responsibility? Or is it immoral to blame the victim of sickness? A moral perspective that is sensitive to therapeutic concerns will downplay blame, but banishing all blame is neither feasible nor desirable. We need to understand the ambiguities surrounding moral responsibility in four contexts: (1) preventing sickness, (2) assigning financial liabilities for health care costs, (3) giving meaning (...) to human suffering, and (4) interacting with health care professionals. We also need to distinguish different kinds of blame, explore the interplay of justice and compassion in avoiding unjustified blaming of victims, and work toward a unified moral-therapeutic perspective that encourages individuals to accept responsibility while avoiding destructive forms of blaming. (shrink)
As commonly understood, professional ethics consists of shared duties and episodic dilemmas--the responsibilities incumbent on all members of specific professions joined together with the dilemmas that arise when these responsibilities conflict. Martin challenges this "consensus paradigm" as he rethinks professional ethics to include personal commitments and ideals, of which many are not mandatory. Using specific examples from a wide range of professions, including medicine, law, high school teaching, journalism, engineering, and ministry, he explores how personal commitments motivate, guide, and give (...) meaning to work. (shrink)
Contrary to Mele's suggestion, not all garden-variety self-deception reduces to bias-generated false beliefs (usually held contrary to the evidence). Many cases center around self-deceiving intentions to avoid painful topics, escape unpleasant truths, seek comfortable attitudes, and evade self-acknowledgment. These intentions do not imply paradoxical projects or contradictory belief states.