Morphogenesis and Human Flourishing

Part of the series Social Morphogenesis pp 45-61


Some Reservations About Flourishing

  • Douglas V. PorporaAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Drexel University Email author 

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I am grateful to all my friends and colleagues associated with critical realism who have been trying to introduce a value-orientation in the social sciences by way of building on Aristotle’s notion of eudaimonia, often translated as flourishing. Although ultimately I come out in support of this move, I do not consider it the only way to incorporate values within the social sciences and, as my title suggests, I hold some serious reservations about it. This chapter explores those reservations.

As some commentators note, the genre of my argument seems to toggle back and forth between “confessional” and “shared reason.” At points, I seem simply to be saying that, as a Christian, I personally have doubts about “flourishing” talk. At other points, I seem to be wanting to convince everyone on reasoned grounds that flourishing thinking doesn’t really work. Actually, I see no contradiction as I make no appeal to faith. Rather I am pointing out that the flourishing paradigm is problematic from the standpoint of a different moral sensibility, one that I happen to hold.


Flourishing Social justice Moral idealism Virtue ethics Biblical ethics