Personal Destinies: A Philosophy of Ethical Individualism
by David L. Norton

The best description of eudaimonism (know-thyself ethics) that I have read, yet inadequate. His aim is to present a unified ethics to guide personal and interpersonal choices and actions. Consequently, he blurs the distinction between what you have a right to do but ought not do and what you have no right to do. He does not discuss the use of force. He offers no coherent theory of the state, crime, punishment, self-defense, economics, aggression, or rights.

On the positive side, he is for individualism. He does a good job of criticizing John Rawles' theory of justice. He clarifies many ideas of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Kierkegard, Nietche, and others. He tries to explain Sartre's existentialism but, of course, he fails because it can't be done.

In summary, he fails to provide a coherent, unified system of ethics that encompasses both personal ethics and social justice. His omission of the topics listed above implies that eudaimonism cannot address the problem of social justice at all. If someone's daemon is to be a master pick-pocket, this philosophy can only encourage him.

Year Read: 1981


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