Happiness and Virtue

John Kleinig

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    One may wonder why Steven Cahn's character Fred in his essay The Happy Immoralist is fictitious. Happiness is agent-relative, but happiness as a judgment on the satisfactoriness of one's life is more than a state of euphoria and even of ongoing pleasure. It is a recognition that the various parts of one's life are functioning well in coherent and stable fashion, that one's important goals are being accomplished, and that one is satisfied with how they are being accomplished. It may well be that Fred possess sufficient cunning to ensure that his fame, wealth, and reputation remain intact in spite of the way they have been achieved, and that he does not particularly care about what will be learned about him after his death. It might be common to think that someone with Fred's cunning might well be troubled by the possibility of other Freds or even resilient and persistent victims of his treachery. For most of the people, happiness is bound up with living a life very different from Fred's. It is possible to play tricks with being happy and feeling happy, and certainly Fred believes that he is and does not just feel. But in knowing what Fred values, one would also know that at one important level his happiness is chimerical.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2-2
    Number of pages1
    JournalJournal of Social Philosophy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    Dive into the research topics of 'Happiness and Virtue'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this