Human Flourishing (Eudaimonian) Framework

The value criterion is...promoting human flourishing.

Here are some of the best justifications for a human flourishing (Eudaimonian) framework.

NECESSARY LINK: see page Moral Universalism, Ahistoricism False

Ethical systems based on concepts of duty divorced from lived experience are bankrupt. Instead, we should endorse a Eudaimonian ethic that promotes human flourishing. Brenkert 1:

George G. Brenkert [Marx's ethic of freedom (1983) publ. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983]

Accordingly, Marx avoids (certain) ‘moral words’ not only because their use has been appropriated by moralists (as noted above), but also because he has different concerns than most modern moral philosophers. Usually morality tells us not to steal, kill, lie, cheat, commit adultery, etc. But what about the people to whom this is told? What if they [who] have been transformed into commodities, into (say) the equivalent of hats (MECW, 6:125)? What if their labour or activity is itself treated as a commodity (MECW, 6:113, 125)? What if the crafts they learn are but forms of craft- idiocy (MECW, 6:190), and they are abased in the process (MECW, 6:201)? How do any of these things count in morality? Marx speaks, for example, of one’s feelings towards the dwelling in which one lives — does one find it a natural or an alien environment which one can have only in so far as one gives up blood and sweat on it (MECW, 3:314)? He speaks of activity in direct association with others becoming a means for expressing one’s own life (MECW, 3:301). He criticises money for ‘overturning and confounding ... all human and natural qualities’ (MECW, 3:324-5). In essence, Marx believes that it is crucial to push beyond the rules and principles of an ethics of duty to the underlying realities which constitute and form people’s daily lives. Morality has tended to demand that we act in certain ways, whereas the daily life we really live has told us other things. What we are, the nature our characters and dispositions take in society, is, Marx suggests, what is crucial and of immediate (moral) significance. The rules of duty and obligation seem remote to such concerns. Indeed, even some who defend an ethics of duty have noted this remoteness. Thus, they have expressed their consternation ‘that so many admirable people live by something other than a sense of moral obligation ... that what takes primacy in the lives of such people ... is not ... a sense of moral duty . . . but an ideal of being virtuous. ...’ [29] That traditional morality, the ethics of duty, is separated from the underlying concerns of daily life is a crucial part of Marx’s attack on ethics and morality. One basis for life and another for science is a lie, Marx claims. Marx does not seek a morality that is separated from other crucial areas of life, but a view of life which would unify our daily concerns and our moral concerns. In so viewing the subject of his concern, Marx [L]ook[ing]s at morality more broadly than is often done today. In this sense, Marx’s approach to morality is akin to that of the Greeks for whom the nature of virtue or human excellence was the central question of morality. In contrast to the more restricted notion of moral excellence as the fulfilment of moral duty, the Greeks wanted to know what kind of life is best suited for a human being. What kinds and range of activities are required for a person to lead a flourishing life? To lead such a life would be to lead the moral life par excellence. Marx too, when he was not condemning the narrow, ineffective morality of his time, thought in these broad terms. Thus, he comments that besides purely physical limitations, the extension of the working-day encounters moral ones. The labourer needs time for satisfying his intellectual and social wants, the extent and number of which are conditioned by the general state of social advancement’ (Capital, 1:232, my emphasis). [30] As such, Marx’s treatment of issues that relate to what we might understand as morality and ethics is broader and different from what we may expect. It is, essentially, an [we must] attempt to provide a characterization of the moral or flourishing life, which is not separated from its underlying bases and conditions. It is an attempt which, because it jettisons certain concepts traditionally identified with morality, challenges our conceptual prejudices. 

This ethics answers the question of how we fulfill our telos – our goals for living based on our experience. For example, a musician is judged by their ability to perform music, the essence of being a musician. Ethics thus must foster the development of the essence of what it is to be human, meaning, the advancement of freedom that allows for human flourishing.

Phillip Kain [Marx And Aristotle: Nineteenth-Century German Social Theory And Classical Antiquity. George E. McCarthy “Aristotle, Kant and the Ethics of a Young Marx.” 1992 Pp. 216-217]

Marx's concepts of objectification and of species essence involve view of freedom that in many ways is like that of Kant. Unalienated human beings are self-determined in the sense that they are not driven by need but regulate the satisfaction of need consciously. They are not dominated by alien market forces, but control their social interaction themselves. Such human beings are not determined heteronomously. Their activity is not determined by particular interests or individual needs, but is directed consciously toward the realization of the human essence, that is, toward the satisfaction of needs common to all. Needs that can be universalized, needs whose satisfaction would be demanded by the categorical imperative. We must say a bit more about the relationship between needs and the categorical imperative. Kant, at least in the Critique of Practical Reason admits that inclinations, interests, or needs are embedded in the content of any maxim. But to act morally and freely we must will to carry out the maxim not because of these interests, needs, or inclinations, but solely because the maxim is universalizable and thus rational. In other words. Kant has no objection to the fact that ends, interests, needs, goods, or purposes will be embedded in our maxims. They are expected to be there, but they must not be the elements that determine our will; only the possibility of universalizing the maxim without contradiction can do that if the act is to be free and moral Perhaps the clearest example of this can be found in Kant's claim that the categorical imperative requires us to seek our own happiness It is at least an indirect duty to seek happiness not because we desire it (though, of course, we do desire it), but because it is impossible to universalize not seeking it. This too. I think, is Marx's view. We do not seek the object because it satisfies a particular need or interest of the individual (though, of course, it does so). That would be to be need-driven and dominated by the object. That would be heteronomy. We seek an object because to do so is universalizable, because the need for the object is common lo all human beings, because it would be impossible to universalize not seeking the object, all of which is also to say that the object realizes the essence of the species. The categorical imperative applies to powers as well as needs. Even for Kant the categorical imperative would require individuals to develop their talents. But, for Marx, powers are not important merely for the Individual. The powers of individuals affect and transform the sociocultural world that other individuals internalize The entire sociocultural world is the outcome of what individuals have contributed to it through the manifestation of their powers, and this sociocultural world molds all individuals and makes possible the development of their powers. Thus, for individuals to seek their own realization, they must seek the full realization of the powers of other individuals--the powers of the species as a whole. This would require that we act on the universal--in accordance with the categorical imperative, which would demand the realization of quite specific powers of any particular individual, since such powers could contribute to the development of the species* It [is] would be societies obligation to provide the conditions under which such powers could be realized Moreover, as we saw earlier with respect to needs. Marx Operates not just with a Kantian categorical imperative but with an Aristotelian [the] concept of essence, and the latter would call for the development of powers that we might not be able to will that all human beings develop hut that nevertheless would develop the essence of the individual and conceivably contribute to the enrichment of the human species. The categorical imperative would, of course, also demand that those powers that would harm others should not be realized. Furthermore, despite the importance of objects, needs, and powers. Marx implies that it is species activity itself that is our highest goal. Much as for Aristotle, activities can have their ends or objects outside themselves, or the activity itself can he our highest end. For Marx, it is true that objects are ends--not means--and that activity cannot occur without objects and the satisfaction of needs: but it is the activity of producing objects and satisfying needs that is the highest end, and not the objects of particular interests or individual needs themselves. The end is a certain form of activity--activity that is free, that is, conscious and purposively directed toward the realization of the species It would not he a means to something else, but an end in itself. Such action would not be heteronomously determined. At the same time, we can say that for Kant moral obligation is based not on seeking the good, but on freedom. We obey the categorical imperative because only by doing so are we rationally self-determined and thus free Here, too, we do not act to realize an external end; our act itself—freedom--is the end. For Marx, too, moral obligation is based on freedom in this way. Free species activity is itself the end. But this also means that the end is the realization of the essence of the species—its good. And only through the realization of the essence of the species can we realize our powers, capacities, and freedom--our own good. In this way. Marx links Aristotle and Kant. Realizing our essence in identical with acting on a categorical imperative. This identification is possible because Marx understands our essence as a species Essence. To realize our essence, we must act consciously and purposefully for the benefit of the species. But to act for the benefit of the species is to act for the universal: it is to act on the categorical imperative. Such species activity is an end in itself At the same time* to act for the universal is to realize the species and thus to realize one's own essence, and to realize one's own essence is to be free. Marx docs not accept the Kantian notion of a noumenal realm, this is necessary for Kant because without it we would be entirely situated in the phenomenal realm, and all of our action Would be determined causally, and heteronomously. Instead of a concept of noumena. Marx employs a concept of essence. In the absence of alienation, neither the object nor need for the object indicates heteronomy, because the needed object is not, in itself, heteronomous; it is pan of our essence. As we have seen, both the subject and the object are parts of nature, and the object is ontologically absorbed into the subject in the sense that the human species constitutes and comes to control collectively the objective world It finds itself reflected in that world, and finds the world to be one with itself in essence. Kantian autonomy does not satisfy Marx* because only the intentions and volitions of the individual are free- In abstracting so radically from results, consequences, and goods, the individual--for Kant—is [considered] free even if the external world frustrates the realization of subjectively free activity. Not so for Hegel and Marx. The external world--the object—must have been [be] transformed to fit our essence. It must be a reflection of ourselves that reinforces and confirms us. The free action of the subject must be realized in the world for full freedom to be possible Thus our relation to the object is not only a free relation but one that realizes our essence, and thus must be universalizable.

Thus, the goal of the state is the promotion of the conditions necessary for individuals to better themselves. In short, the state must promote human flourishing.

Thus the standard is the promotion of human flourishing.

Oppression is definitionally opposed to the promotion of flourishing because it is the denial of an individual’s freedom to pursue their essence. In terms of Eudaimonian ethics, individual acts are not relevant to the pursuit of the human essence. Instead, it focuses on the fundamental social arrangements such as class relations and how society either promotes, or oppresses an individuals ability to flourish.