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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 61, Issue 3, September 2021

Timothy Kearns, Oswald Schmitz
Pages 335-351

Flourishing: Outlines of an Aristotelian Natural Philosophy of Living Things

Accounts of flourishing have been employed in many disciplines. Aristotelian moral philosophers have developed accounts of flourishing based on the characteristic forms of life of living things. In this paper we develop an Aristotelian account of flourishing for living things in general as part of a larger Aristotelian natural philosophy. We relate accounts of flourishing to evolutionary theory, behavioral studies, and ecology as well as to what flourishing is for individual organisms in their parts and activities. We distinguish between contingent and determinate activities by arguing that the behavior of living things are their contingent activities. We consider the structure of cognitive capacities in living things and their relation to flourishing, and we follow out the implications of the distinctively human capacities of cognition. Our consideration of humankind alloww us to show that the study and practice of human flourishing entail stewardship of nature.

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