Is Moral Behavior a Requirement to Happiness?

Dr. Purushothaman
January 18, 2014


Morality has been a term of debate for several years by intellectuals who have not come to the final conclusion of its definition. According to Damon (5), morality is an existing, multifaceted construct that may not be pinned down by any single definitional criteria which is flexible. The moral character has long been associated with happiness which is that state of having achieved oneâEUR(TM)s desires although there are some disconnections. Several theories have been forwarded in connection to morality and happiness as far as the society is concerned. In this argumentative paper we shall give detailed analysis of morality and happiness and whether or not moral character is a requirement to happiness.
Morality and Happiness
The concept of morality utilizes the individualâEUR(TM)s evaluation of events and actions to separate the good from bad and stipulates behavior consistent with the good. This means that there are socially accepted societal values that are promoted by morality. In addition, morality includes the welfare of others beyond our own selfish desires and responsibility to express the same through caring, kindness and mercy. The morality will also include commitment to honest while dealing with all people coupled with concern for their rights and ensuring justice and fair treatment. The more important fact about morality is that it provokes the emotional responses such as guilty, fear and contempt whenever one goes against the good morals (Damon 5).
On the other hand happiness has been described by Kant to mean a constant well-being, enjoyment of life, total fulfillment with oneâEUR(TM)s condition. The happiness is further extended to include the riches, honor, power, good health coupled with satisfaction. Thus it is notes that happiness is a representation of preservation and welfare which is the total satisfaction of all personal needs and preferences. It is important to realize that happiness is not pleasure but rather it is simply obtaining what you want in life. Therefore happiness is achieved with the fulfillment of any desire of an individual irrespective of its nature (Hughes 61 & 62). We shall base the following arguments on these definitions of happiness and morality.
Moral Behavior is a Requirement to Happiness
To begin with, the society has closely connected good moral behavior to happiness. This is evidenced by the fact that philosophers, parents and teachers are encouraging good character with the belief that those individuals who are decent live better and happy lives as compared to those behaving badly (Delattre 136 & 137). With their encouragement, the society has been made to belief that a good moral behavior is a requirement to happiness. The children who are growing are being trained that they will be happy if they observe a good moral character. These teachings have been able to convince the society that for an individual to be happy they have to be morally upright.
The other fact is that character faults do not make an individual happy. This is because the morally corrupt individual cannot be trusted even by close friends and relatives. They will constantly live in fear of the people that they have wronged. This means that they cannot be happy leaving only the morally upright to be happy. Thus we can arrive at the fact that good moral character is a requirement to happiness since the reverse is not true. This fact is that decent people are happier than unjust individuals (Delattre 137).
Moreover, the process of seeking happiness is not immediate and it requires patients and sufficient skills. The Novelist Robertson Davies compared happiness to a cat where if you chase it run away but if you go about your business without disturbing its peace then it will warm up to you and be your friend. Therefore equally happiness cannot be achieved by aggressive actions but rather small random morally upright actions. Thus paying attention to little actions at work and private life will allow happiness to come to you. In the event that you aggressively use any means including immoral behavior to gain happiness then it could elude you. An example is if we go out to have fun with friends we will end up being happy in the long term (Delattre 137). Thus it becomes a requirement that good moral character be observed always in order to gain a long-term happiness without any struggle.
Moreover, the morality, good character and happiness cannot be separated from one another. This is because to a huge extent we tend to offer as the best individuals to our families, friend and colleagues who are the source of our happiness. Therefore there is an understanding that we can enjoy their company when we offer our best morals and support. With this understanding, we realize that a good moral character is a requirement to true happiness irrespective of the people we are dealing with. This understanding enables individuals to realize and prevent any moral deviation so as to maintain happiness with all persons (Delattre 137).
According to the philosophy of happiness (14, 15, 16 & 17), Aristotle stated the factors that make happiness as good health, money, relationships and good moral behavior. Aristotle pointed out that happiness was the ultimate desire for human being leaving nothing more to be desired. The happiness is sought for its own sake unlike other things which are sought in order to achieve happiness. Aristotle understood that for an individual to be happy one must be of good morals and can suffer to achieve the greater happiness later in the long run. Many individuals believe that happiness is different to each person but Aristotle thinks that there is only a single genuine notion and that it is similar for all human beings. Therefore power does not contribute to happiness since it would exclude some people from being happy whenever they are subjects of power. Thus history and written articles including AristotleâEUR(TM)s have made individuals to believe that the requirement to happiness is a good moral behavior.
Moral Behavior is not a Requirement to Happiness
On the other hand, it is not a requirement that for one to gain moral happiness they should be able to be morally upright. There are those people who belief that any happiness cannot be achieved by doing the right. They believe that only wrong actions will put them in a position to be happy because their wishes and desires are not limited by moral standing. These individuals believe that by doing the wrong actions they could benefit from their profits which in turn would make them happy. One example is that of buddy boys who deal with drugs which are harmful in the society yet they claim that the money gained from the immoral trading will make them happy (Delattre 137). Therefore we cannot generalize that happiness is achieved out of moral behavior because others have achieved through illegal and wrong actions. Although they feel guilty about their wrongdoings, they tend to concentrate on the pleasure part of their actions which is money for entertainment.
The other fact is that of duty where an individual work is in a risk environment. For example a police officer would be doing the moral right to secure citizens. However, they may get killed by the thugs who do not care of their lives but rather their benefits of terrorizing the citizens. This means that even though the police officer was actively doing the right duties under good morals, they end up being killed and as such do not become happy but their families end up unhappy. Thus we can say that happiness does not require a good moral behavior because this example shows that even good actions of duty do not guarantee happiness. Another example is where an officer reports a corrupt colleague in the spirit of doing good morals but ends up being segregated and becomes continuously unhappy (Delattre 137).
According to Hughes (64), Kant says that it is not true that doing the right thing leads to happiness in all circumstances as states by the doctrine of happiness. In fact he goes on to explain that morality could often hinder the achievement of oneâEUR(TM)s desires if they are considered immoral. Thus we cannot generalize that moral behavior is a requirement to happiness. Moreover, Kant continues to say that the process of making somebody happy has nothing to do with moral behavior of that person. This means that it is possible that many people are able to fulfill their desires and become happy without necessarily being moral. In any case somebody could be morally good but fail to be happy in life giving justification to the actions of those people who want happiness at the expense of morality.
Moreover, the principle of happiness bases morality as an incentive to happiness which in itself is not moral. This means people will seek to be moral for the sake of happiness and not for the sake of morality (Delattre 137). Therefore if the morality is just an incentive to happiness, it means that others may achieve happiness without the use of incentive. Thus we can conclude that morality is not a requirement to happiness.
After a serious consideration, I agree to the fact that morality is a requirement to genuine happiness. This is because individuals just want to be happy and could do anything to achieve desired happiness including good morals. By being genuinely happy, individuals do not have that sense of having done wrong to achieve their happiness and will live with sufficient peace of mind. If a situation where the whole society must practice morality then it would allow everyone the non-competitive search for happiness and the entire society will be happy in the long run.

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