James Stocksdale's Virtue Ethics: How Stockdale Was Happy

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Molina, Matthew Dr. Reichard PHIL 221 15 Oct. 2014 Virtue Ethics: How Stockdale was Happy Prisoner of war, James Stockdale, has spent being in solitary confinement and leg irons, being starved, beaten, and tortured multiple times. Through all those times it seemed to be horrendous to him, he never seemed to let that bother him stating that he is right where he wants to be, which concludes that he was happy. Happiness in this case isn’t something that is joyful, but rather having a good character. In terms of the ancient ethics, 3 philosophers had different view point on what determines happiness, Aristotle, Epictetus, and Socrates. Each vary in terms of what happiness is, as Aristotle believed that what external goods a person needs in order…show more content…
These “external goods” mentioned is what items on the outside a person of such requires in order to have some feeling (Nicomachaen Ethics, 8). The reason why Stockdale does not fit this picture was his external goods. In terms of what Stockdale needed seems was to be away from his captors, not being tortured, starved or beaten. As said in Nichomachaen Ethics, “Happiness seems to need this sort of prosperity in addition; for which reason some identify happiness with good fortune.(Nicomachean Ethics, 8)” If good fortune, was getting a leg broken, being denied medical care, and having to live life walking around with a cane ( Courage Under Fire,11) , then Aristotle’s would view as Stockdale’s condition in prison as his is not a person with…show more content…
Epictetus’ main view was that there are things that are up to a person such as their own actions (opinions and pursuit), and there are things that are not up to a person such as things that are their own actions (body and property)(Enchiridion,1). It is considered that Stockdale would fit best in this picture as in his essay “Courage Under Fire”, he refers to him often. Socrates’s view is that a good man cannot be harmed and that his affairs is not neglected by the gods (Apology, 41d), in other words nobody can harm your character which can coincide with what Epictetus wrote in the Enchiridion of “Whatever moral rules you have deliberately proposed to yourself. abide by them as they were laws…Don't regard what anyone says of you, for this, after all, is no concern of yours (Enchiridion,50)” meaning if you have your morals stick with them no matter what. while all these horrendous actions ,that were not up to Stockdale, happened he kept a positive spirt, brining unity and support to his comrades while in the prison (Courage Under Fire, 12) because, since he was basically following the words of Epictetus “ If you ever happen to turn your attention to externals, so as to wish to please anyone, be assured that you have ruined your scheme of life (Enchiridion,23)”, what was around Stockdale should have no effect on his character that he had inside of him, no matter what was happening to

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