Human flourishing is used philosophically to define the highest human good (Perry, Bratman and Fischer 545). A person cannot be morally good by merely focusing on the activities of achieving their full human potential. This is because making flourishing the focus of one’s life activities does not necessarily mean that one is good, since a person can have a good physique and yet be a bad person morally. Also, that a person not living to his full human potential cannot be happy is an absurd statement since there are individuals living happy lives yet they are not fully flourished. According to Aristotle, those individuals who have been born or later in life come to be ugly or have defects cannot be happy; this cannot be true since there exists people who have physical shortcomings but who are happy.
Focusing on flourishing makes an individual’s endeavours to be the achievement of those goals which make him or her achieve their best. These achievements do not necessary translate to moral good. This is because what an individual achieves as a person may be limited to that individual only and may be of no benefit to others.
Success in human endeavours does not always result in good morals, and this can be explained by an example of the scientific team that developed the atomic bomb in the Manhattan project. Their efforts are an example of how individuals can reach the highest level of human achievement, yet through their achievement can be a source of very harmful and morally bad consequences. Tiger Woods, the successful golf player had achieved to the pinnacle of his career, yet this did not inhibit him from commit moral wrongs of adultery and cheating on his wife.
The Aristotle argument that happiness, and consequently moral good, can only be achieved by a person living to his full human potential is also defective. Moral good cannot be premised on absolute level of human achievement. This is because there exist individuals who have not lived to their fullest potential yet they can be described as happy and morally good.
Policemen can be used to illustrate the meaning of this; majority of policemen are not in the highest ranks achievable in the police force. However, these individuals are happy with their achievements. The service they provide individually can be described as being morally good.
According to this argument, individuals who are born with physical or intellectual defects, or those who have them later in life cannot life their lives’ to the fullest and thus cannot be morally good. People with defects, according to the argument fronted by Aristotle, cannot achieve flourish and thus cannot be morally good. Their defects would be a hindrance, and they in effect would be unable to achieve their full human potential.
There are individuals in the society who have managed to achieve their full human potential despite having defects physically or mentally. This argument is not true because there are people who suffer from autism but can achieve great thing that normal human being may find very difficult to achieve, especially in the arts, painting and music being the best examples of this excellence. There are also the Paralympics, where athletes with physical defects compete for the highest athletic honours in the world.
It may be argued that an individual who pursues flourish will through the pursuit only learn to be morally good. This argument is based on the premise that the effort towards achieving the ultimate human achievement, one can only learn to be morally good. This is not true since the in the process of achieving the highest possible goals, an individual is also not insulated from learning habits which are not morally good.
Individuals can work towards and achieve their full human potential and happiness. That does not in any way assure of their moral good, as indicated by the examples previously given. It still remains that achievement of full human potential does not necessarily result in one being good morally.
That flourish in life does not necessary result in moral good as explained by there being individuals who have not achieved their full human potential but are happy and morally good can be countered by the argument that their morality is not at the level that it would be had they achieved their full human potential. This can be refuted since moral good cannot be described in an absolute term depending on the level of human achievement.
It can thus be argued that despite flourish being a positive trait in the pursuit of happiness, the same cannot be said about it as regards to the achievement of moral good. What is considered morally good can be achieved by thos who have not achieved their full human potential.
Those individuals suffering defects, both intellectually and physically, can be said to achieve their full human potential. However, this may be at a lower level than those who do not have such impediments. They can still achieve their full human potential, and thus be morally good. However, on the basis of the Aristotle argument, this is not possible because by their physical and intellectual defects, they cannot achieve their full human potential due to these impediments.
In conclusion, the argument that the achievement of full human potential leads to happiness and moral good on human cannot be held true. This is because flourish does not by necessity result in moral good alone, rather it can also result in what is morally bad. Flourish may be beneficial to the individual, but on the issue of such an individual being morally good, then it does not have a corresponding positive effect.
Individuals who fail to achieve their full human potential can still be happy in life and be morally good. This is despite the argument and those that have physical defects can still achieve their full human potential. They can still be morally good even when they have not achieved their full human potential.
Perry, John, Michael Bratman and John Martin Fischer. Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. 6th edition. New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2012.