Date of Award
Mathematics and Statistics
This paper argues for the addition of a new environmentally focused virtue, simplicity, to the virtue ethical framework developed by Aristotle. First, relevant background from Aristotle’s virtue ethics are developed including the crucial, “doctrine of the mean”, a balance between excess and deficiency of a specified character trait. The tenets of the new virtue simplicity are developed with practical examples based on Aristotle’s method of developing a virtue of character. Simplicity is proposed as a desire to take the appropriate amount from the natural world and an acceptance of one’s circumstances. Those possessing simplicity will not fall victim to the pervasive “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. Examples are given of historical figures the author believes to have possessed simplicity. People like Philip Cafaro, Henry David Thoreau, and even Warren Buffett are discussed as potential “mentors” for our own journeys into simplicity. Finally, an expansion on the intertwined nature of simplicity with the cardinal virtues of justice, wisdom, piety, temperance, and courage is given satisfying Aristotle’s “unity of the virtues” requirement.
Wheeler, Justin, "Simplicity as a New Environmental Virtue" (2020). Undergraduate Honors Capstone Projects. 487.
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