A Complex Account of Character
The bulk of our discussion so far has focused on understanding the kind of well-being anchoring eudaimonic ethics and the moral implications that follow from this conception of well-being. The preceding chapters have provided us insight into the kind of life individuals ought to strive toward in order to develop eudaimonic well-being: They ought to cultivate meaningful relationships with others and treat people in general with care and respect. They ought to identify with the pursuits they embrace and make sure those pursuits themselves are compatible with their innate psychological needs of relatedness, autonomy, and competence. Moreover, as we will see in the chapters to come, their pursuits ought to tap into their skills and allow them opportunities to use their skills and to feel that they are effective in their pursuits. These considerations speak clearly to the need to engage in certain behaviors and in Chapter 3 we saw how we can understand the fi eld of virtue and what it means to act well by refl ection on the need for relatedness. While the discussion so far has focused on the content of our behavior, and of what kinds of lives we should embrace, it is equally important to address the determinants of those behaviors. To best satisfy the need for relatedness, remember, we ought not simply to treat others well in our actions, but we ought to do so out of care and respect for others. To best satisfy the need for autonomy, remember, we ought not simply to pursue goals that are compatible with our other needs, but we ought to (consciously or subconsciously) identify and embrace those goals as the things we want to pursue. We thus must begin to think about the psychological states underpinning one’s actions.