Questing for Happiness: Augmenting Aristotle with Davidson?

South African Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):383–393 (2004)
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Drawing heavily on Aristotle, Tabensky attempts to establish ‘an ethic that flows from the very structure of our being’, but he also calls on Davidson’s arguments about the essentially social character of rationality to shore up Aristotle’s claim that we are essentially social beings. This much of his project, I argue is successful. However Tabensky takes this a step further and proposes a pluralist ethic on the grounds that a ‘fully’ or ‘properly’ instantiated account of the ‘ideal’ conditions for rationality requires encountering innumerable other points of view. Firstly, while confronting alternatives is essential to truth-seeking it hardly follows that an unconstrained pluralism represents an ideal condition for this kind of inquiry, since such an approach risks falling into mere clash of perspectives on practical grounds. Secondly, it is unclear how confronting more and more perspectives is supposed to help in enabling us to lead our lives well. In conclusion, picking up on this theme and looking again at Aristotle, I give reasons for questioning that the kind of rational choice involved in leading the good life, for reasons in part highlighted by Tabensky, benefits from analogy with the modes of conceptual rational inquiry in other domains in any case



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Daniel D. Hutto
University of Wollongong

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