April 30, 2014, 16:30 – 18:00 David Brink (San Diego) ‘Eudaimonism and Cosmopolitan Concern’

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Professor of Philosophy, University of San Diego,

Director, Institute for Law and Philosophy University of San Diego School of Law

Location: Dante Building Room 5

Abstract

This talk explores the adequacy of Sidgwick’s contrast between the egocentrism of ancient ethics and the impartiality of modern ethics by evaluating the resources of eudaimonists, especially Aristotle and the Stoics, to defend a cosmopolitan conception of the common good.  The adequacy of various eudaimonist defenses of the common good may depend on our conception of the common good.  Adapting Broad’s comparison of egoism, utilitarianism, and self-referential altruism, we might distinguish between the scope and weight of ethical concern.  We might then distinguish ethical conceptions that are parochial with respect to both scope and weight, conceptions that are cosmopolitan with respect to both scope and weight, and mixed conceptions that combine universal scope and variable weight.  Aristotle’s eudaimonist justification of the common good appears doubly parochial.  By contrast, the Stoics offer a eudaimonist defense of the common good that is purely cosmopolitan.  But the Stoics have trouble providing a eudaimonist defense of a cosmopolitan conception of the common good.  However, Aristotelian eudaimonism has resources to justify a mixed cosmopolitan conception of the common good that combines universal scope and variable weight.  If Broad’s reservations about Sidgwick’s utilitarianism are correct, mixed cosmopolitanism may be cosmopolitanism enough.



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