1 min read

Do the Right Thing

Why should people adhere to the moral good? To Aristotle, one should do the right thing because it will give you fulfillment. Here are a few questions we need to answer first.

What is happiness?

Aristotle defines happiness as the thing that we want for its own sake. For example, you want money because it is exchangeable for labor, and you want a lakehouse to flex on your friends. However, nobody has a reason they want to be happy.

What does not lead to happiness?

Before he reveals what happiness is, Aristotle argues that these are certain actions that will not lead to happiness.

  • Seeking pleasure: unsophisticated and primitive
  • Living for a good reputation: you cannot be truly happy if what makes you happy comes from other people
  • Possession of virtue: having good traits is not enough, you must act on them (I can have nice teeth, but if I never smile 🤷🏻‍♂️)
  • Wealth: it’s not something you desire for its own sake, so it cannot be happiness

So what leads to happiness?

Happiness is exercising the virtues.
  • Aristotle (probably)

Aristotle's argument for doing the right thing is as follows:

  1. an object has a purpose or something that sets it apart.
  • eg. an air conditioner cools the air
  1. what is “good” for an object is what allows it to perform its job well
  • eg. changing an air filter is “good” for an air conditioner because it improves its function
  1. a human being’s function is to think rationally
  2. therefore, what is “good” for a human is exercising the ability to think rationally, aka being virtuous

Conclusion: You should do the right thing if you want to be happy.