Stephen M. Cahn 's ' The View ' Essay

803 Words Jun 15th, 2015 4 Pages
This essay will argue in favour of the view presented by Steven M. Cahn that, while society may not approve of immoral action (with good reason) this is far from sufficient to conclude that anyone who performs an immoral action for the sake of happiness cannot be truly happy.
The key example Cahn uses is Judah Rosenthal (a character appropriated from a Woody Allen film) to explain his argument that the happy life need not be identical with the “morally-good” or “virtuous” life (Cahn & Vitrano, 2015). Judah Rosenthal is a doctor who gets his lover killed (after she threatened to reveal their affair) in order to sustain his reputation as a doctor as well as his relationships with his wife, family and community. In essence, Cahn argues that Rosenthal commits an immoral action in order to maximise happiness (and prevent his life being destroyed) and that we can deem Judas happy, despite his murderous act. As such, Cahn argues that morality and happiness are not the same, as while the majority would deem his murder immoral, it is exceedingly difficult to argue that Judah is not happy, and even harder again to argue that he would have been happier by doing the moral action (i.e. not killing his black-mailing mistress). (Cahn, 2004; Cahn & Vitrano, 2015)
Philippa Foot argues against Cahn’s view, in saying while we can argue that someone may seem happy, the only way to achieve genuine happiness is when the happiness-inducing actions are moral (Foot, 2002). This is a commonly held…

Related Documents