The Virtue of Simplicity


Authors
Philip Cafaro
Colorado State University
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)
DOI 10.1007/s10806-009-9187-0
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 41,668
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

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Future Harms and Current Offspring.Jason Kawall - 2011 - Ethics, Policy and Environment 14 (1):23-26.
GM Crops, the Hubris Argument and the Nature of Agriculture.Payam Moula - 2015 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 28 (1):161-177.

View all 13 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-06-22

Total views
173 ( #40,738 of 2,250,074 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #36,745 of 2,250,074 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature