in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: February 21, 2022

Podcast #770: Philosophical Tools for Living the Good Life

Most everyone wants to live a good, meaningful life, though we don’t always know what that means and how to do it. Plenty of modern self-improvement programs claim to point people in the right direction, but many of the best answers were already offered more than two thousand years ago.

My guests have gleaned the cream of this orienting, ancient-yet-evergreen advice from history’s philosophers and shared it in their new book, The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith, and Meaning. Their names are Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko, and they’re professors of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Today on the show Meghan and Paul introduce us to the world of virtue ethics — an approach to philosophy that examines the nature of the good life, the values and habits that lead to excellence, and how to find and fulfill your purpose as a human being. We discuss how to seek truth with other people by asking them three levels of what they call “strong questions” and engaging in civil and fruitful dialogue. We then delve into why your intentions matter and why you should use “morally thick” language. We also examine the role that work and love has to play in pursuing the good life, and how the latter is very much about attention. We end our conversation with how a life of eudaimonia — full human flourishing — requires balancing action with contemplation.

Resources Related to the Podcast

Connect With Meghan and Paul

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

Apple Podcast.



Stitcher.Google Podcast.

Listen to the episode on a separate page.

Download this episode.

Subscribe to the podcast in the media player of your choice.

Listen ad-free on Stitcher Premium; get a free month when you use code “manliness” at checkout.

Podcast Sponsors

Click here to see a full list of our podcast sponsors.

Read the Transcript!

If you appreciate the full text transcript, please consider donating to AoM. It will help cover the costs of transcription and allow others to enjoy it as well. Thank you!

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. Now, most everyone wants to live a good and meaningful life but we don’t always know what that means and how to do it. Plenty of modern self-improvement programs claim to point people in the right direction but many of the best answers were already offered more than 2000 years ago. My guests have gleaned the cream of this orienting, ancient yet evergreen advice from history’s philosophers and shared it in the new book, “The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith and Meaning.” Their names are Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko and they’re professors of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Today in the show, Meghan and Paul introduced us to the world of virtue ethics and their approach to philosophy that examines the nature of the good life, the values and habits that lead to excellence and how to find and fulfill your purpose as a human being. We discuss how to seek truth in other people by asking them three levels of what they call strong questions and engaging in civil and fruitful dialogue. We then delve into why your intentions matter and why you should use morally thick language.

We also examine the role that work and love has to play in pursuing the good life and how the latter is very much about attention. We end our conversation with how a life of eudaimonia, full human flourishing, requires balancing action with contemplation. After the show’s over, check out our show notes at Alright, Meghan Sullivan, Paul Blaschko, welcome to the show.

Meghan Sullivan: So happy to be here.

Paul Blaschko: Thank you so much.

Brett McKay: So you two are philosophy professors at the University of Notre Dame, go Irish, and you got a book out “The Good Life Method: Reasoning Through the Big Questions of Happiness, Faith and Meaning,” and in this book, you use virtue ethics to help people think about big life issues like Love, work, meaning, purpose, but before we get to those topics today, can you give us a big picture idea of what virtue ethics is for those who aren’t familiar with it.

Meghan Sullivan: So I think a lot of people, when they first hear about virtue ethics, what comes to mind, or the Victorian British people who had this very rigid set of rules for developing and protecting virtue, especially maybe the virtue of vulnerable women. And you think about it as this kind of prim and outdated philosophy, but in fact, what virtue ethics is, is this 2500-year-old philosophical self-improvement system that a lot of people have thought are at the core of why we care about philosophy and why we care about ethics. And the way I like to explain it to students or to people who I’m just trying to get excited about these ideas to, is first understanding what the two terms mean. So when we talk about the ethics and virtue ethics, we’re not talking about a system of rules like, always raise your pinky when you drink coffee, or always drive on the left-hand side of the road. Instead, we’re using ethics more like a work ethic, like a set of goals and principles and values that drive you, and the ethics part of that is trying to identify what those goals are that you have in your sights that you find really motivating and also explain your action in the world.

And virtue doesn’t necessarily mean a system of social mores and customs. Really the virtues are meant to be the traits and drives and dimensions of your personality that are helping you fulfill your function as a human being, that are helping you be the kind of person that you are aspiring to be or an excellent example of a person. And these will oftentimes be pretty demanding, but really interesting virtues that people can have in many different kinds of lives. Virtues like courage and generosity, deep concern for the truth, a deep concern for love and justice, and the ability to see and notice it in situations where it might be hard to find with the just or loving action is. And so one of the big things that we try to do in our class and in the book is remind people that they already think of like a virtue ethicist. We all struggle with these kinds of questions about what sort of person we wanna be and whether we’re living a good life every day, we just don’t know that there’s a name for this kind of philosophy and that there might be a more systematic way to approach it.

Paul Blaschko: Just to add really briefly onto Meghan’s answer, I totally agree with. The way I explain it to my students is virtue ethics, at least as Aristotle presents it, and he’s sort of the spirit animal of our course and the book… He shows up all over the place. So virtue ethics on the Aristotelian model takes the function or the purpose of human life, and it makes it central in asking these questions about how we should live and what makes a good life and what kind of goals that we should have, and so an easy analogy and one that I think a lot of intro philosophy classes we use is, think about a knife. What’s the purpose of a knife? Well, it’s to cut things. To chop up carrots and I don’t know whatever knives do. Okay, and so what makes a knife excellent? We’ll think about that function and think about what it would take for it to do that well. It’s gotta be sharp, it’s gotta sort of be solid, it’s gotta be built out of a certain kind of material, so we take that kind of structure and then we apply it to human life. We ask, What’s the purpose of human life? What’s our function? And then given that purpose, given that function, what would make us excellent beings of the sort that we actually are excellent human beings.

Brett McKay: Then I think that’s a good description that there’s not any hard or fast rules with virtue ethics. I think a lot of people want that with the philosophy, but I think as you said, Meghan, people are doing virtue ethics all the time. Life is sort of messy and they don’t know what’s the right thing to do here, and when you’re thinking like that, you are being a virtue ethicist.

Meghan Sullivan: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think one of the really exciting things about coming to study virtue ethics is realizing in a really empowering way, how many ethical questions permeate your life. This idea of what’s the most generous or kind way to craft this email that I’m about to send at work, or what is a really just way of running a meeting? Ethics isn’t just this domain of should I launch the nuclear missiles, or only concerning issues of life and death or things that are in the headlines of the New York Times, but in fact, this realizing the day-to-day habits and activities that we spend time thinking about how we wanna do them and what our style is gonna be, these can be questions that also are influencing the kind of person that we’re becoming in ways that are really the heart of all of ethics.

Brett McKay: Okay, so for Aristotle, living the good life for humans meant living a life… What he you called… Eudaimonia or flourishing. So it’s like figuring out what the purpose of humans are and then you’re trying to achieve that. So for Aristotle, what did human flourishing look like?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, so one of the really important places to start for Aristotle is this question that you’ve identified, what is our function, what is our purpose? And one way that the Greeks and the ancient philosophers liked to approach this question is to ask and what sets us apart from every other kind of creature? Every other kind of being? And even just sort of reflecting on this question, I think one property that comes to mind immediately is well, we can reason, we can reflect on things, we can use that to guide our lives and to shape the decisions that we’re making. So for Aristotle, really crucially, a life of flourishing, a life where you’re achieving what he calls eudaimonia, which is sometimes just translated happiness, sometimes translated flourishing. But a life that looks like that is gonna be one where you’re using that distinctively human capacity to reflect on and make decisions about what you think constitutes a good life.

Brett McKay: So there’s no… He doesn’t have a set thing like, well, you are living a flourishing life if you do X X X. As long as you’re just thinking and reasoning about your life is that for Aristotle a good life?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, I think this is tricky, and Meghan, maybe you’ve got thoughts here. It’s tricky in the sense that Aristotle certainly thinks there are essential goods, there are elements that every good life is gonna share, right? He says in the Nicomachean Ethics, “A man would not choose to live if he didn’t have friends, even if he had every other good thing in life.” So friendship, companionship, this is essential to our flourishing, right and it’s something that we can discover through reason, and he gives us arguments as to why this is the case. And there are other things like this. So there are certain things that he thinks every good life is gonna have, but he’s not really prescriptive about exactly what that’ll look like, it’s not like a good life is gonna follow a template, or there’s a rule that you can use to just say like, “Okay, in this situation, here are the considerations,” and boom like here’s the output. Is that fair, Meghan?

Meghan Sullivan: Yeah, I think this is one of the things that philosophers love and hate about, Aristotle as the founder of virtue ethics. On the love side, he spends a lot of time in his book about happiness and human flourishing, the Nicomachean Ethics, going through specific virtues like courage or prudence and telling you, Here’s how to determine whether or not you’re acting courageously when you get confused. Courage is gonna be the mean, for instance, between being a coward and being reckless. He tries to give you guidance, but he also keeps reiterating that how courage manifests in your particular life, and whether or not you’re truly being courageous, or being reckless or being cowardly is gonna depend on really specific features of your situation and who you are, and this should make sense to us, right? Courage for a Spartan Helot is gonna look so different than courage for a 2022 American philosophy professor. For the Helot it might mean like rushing into battle to save his brother. For a 2022 philosophy professor, courage might mean going on a national podcast and trying to answer philosophy questions. It’s just the kinds of situations that we’re in are gonna manifest what’s really excellent about human lives in really different ways.

One of the really frustrating parts of Aristotle for a lot of philosophers and philosophy students is he faces this question about how you can know whether you’ve got the right kind of courage for your particular situation or the right kind of generosity for your really particular situation, if there’s no hard and fast rule book. And the best he can tell us on this is that in the course of trying to develop a good life, you develop this other virtue called phronesis or practical wisdom, which is basically the virtue of knowing what to do and people find this really frustrating because it just seems to not answer any of our questions anymore. What would a good person do at this faculty meeting tomorrow? Or how would a good person parent their child when the new iPhone comes online? And the best the Aristotelian can say is hopefully you’ve gotten to this point in your life where you also have this virtue of discernment and judgment, which can tell you what all the other virtues are gonna look like in your own particular circumstances, and then the Aristotle and The Virtue ethicist tend to get this question of like, “Well, how do I know if I’ve got bad virtue?” And why that’s why this debate has raged on and on.

Brett McKay: Now, we’ve had Barry Schwartz on the podcast, talk about his book “Practical Wisdom” where he talks about phronesis. And yeah it is frustrating ’cause it’s like, “Well, how do you know what you’re doing?” Well, you just… Aristotle says, “Well, you develop it like a carpenter learns how to do carpentry. You have to do it.” And by doing it, you learn it. And there’s nothing, there’s no rules. Well, this is… You follow this and you are actualizing phronesis like, “Well, no, you just kind of, you kinda know.”

Paul Blaschko: I found it very frustrating as an undergraduate learning Aristotle, I just kept thinking, yeah but what’s the answer? Just tell me, how do I figure out what to do? I find as I sort of go through life and go through different changes, like having kids or trying to figure out a job, I find that the picture actually makes a lot more sense to me. So one thing that Aristotle cares a lot about is that we’re comparing our theory that we’re reflecting and sort of coming up with theories about the world, but they were constantly comparing that with the experience of living, and that we use that experience sometimes to falsify the theory to say, “You know what, I really thought I had a good grasp on theoretically how to make these decisions, but turns out I don’t.”

In my case, as a parent, having kids, I read all the books about like how do you raise your kids and what are the one, two, three rule, all these things, and then the minute that you actually have kids and you find yourself in that situation, it’s a lot more like the kind of activities we are referencing a second ago, like carpentry or some complex activity that you’re just kind of sorting through and figuring out as you go. And it doesn’t mean that there’s no better or worse way to do it, it just means that the activity itself is more complex than we can boil down into a simple kind of two or three part rule-based theory. So I don’t know, I find this as I get older, I’m not that old, but as I get older, this sort of picture makes more and more sense to me.

Brett McKay: One criticism I’ve seen levied at virtue ethics, is that it can be relativistic. You were saying, Meghan, what’s courage for a Spartan Helot? It’s gonna be different for a philosophy professor in 2022, it’s gonna change depending on the person. So what would be the response to that?

Meghan Sullivan: It depends a little bit on what you mean by relativism. This is a live scholarly nerdy philosophy debate right now, is how much Aristotle fits into our current categories of relativism or absolutism. When I think of moral relativist or relativist about the good life. I think about folks who think that whatever view you currently have about your particular life right now has gotta be… That’s all there is to the truth about the good life. So you ask me, Meghan, do you think that you are a happy philosopher in the year 2022? If I say, “Yes, I am,” then that’s the correct answer. If I say, “No, I’m not,” that’s also the correct answer. Whatever kind of… However I judge my particular situation is all there is to the truth of the matter. If that’s how we understand relativism… And likewise for Paul, It just…

Totally the truth about whether or not you are doing well or living the good life, just depends on your particular perspective. That’s what I mean by relativism. Aristotle is definitely not a relativist, because Aristotle and most virtue ethicist think that you could be mistaken about whether or not you are living the good life. It’s not just a matter of how you feel or how you judge your particular life at a particular moment. In fact, we know on reflection that there are periods of our life when we thought things were going really well, and in fact, objectively speaking, they weren’t. We thought we were being courageous, but in fact we were making a really reckless decision.

And so if you think that, believing that there are some objective standards for happiness or goals that we really have to be working intellectually to get in our sights and questions we should be asking ourselves about whether or not we’re doing it right, then virtue ethicist says, “Absolutely.” Aristotle uses this metaphor that I really love in the Nicomachean Ethics, where he says, “We’re like archers when it comes to happiness, and we’re always trying to get the goal in our sites, and it would be so much easier to make all of these other decisions in our lives, if we could finally just to like nail down what the goal is that we’re shooting at.” But in fact, we spend so much of our lives really just trying to figure out what the goal is and wondering what it is. If you take that kind of goal like shooting an arrow at a target metaphor seriously, you gotta believe that there’s a target out there that’s outside of you, that you could get your head around. And so for these reasons, I think that at least the modern idea of relativism doesn’t really capture the kind of advice that somebody like Aristotle’s giving us.

Brett McKay: Let’s dig into how do you figure out what a flourishing life is for you? ‘Cause you have a whole chapter to that and you both argue that in order to figure that out, you have to start asking yourself and other people, too, what you call strong questions. What are strong questions?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, so I think one of the key features of strong questions is that they’re genuinely questions. So in the book, one of the distinctions that we make is between what we call it prosecutor questions and dinner party questions, so I can certainly ask somebody what looks like a question but really in an attempt just to get them on the record. This happens sometimes, unfortunately with my family at holidays, I’ll say like, “Mom, you sent me this article about vaccines, do you really think… ” And it sounds like I’m a prosecutor, it sounds like I’m putting on the stand, and for the record, I wanted to say something so I can be outraged or so that other people can jump in and then argue.

On the other hand, there’s a way of questioning and inquiring where you’re genuinely curious, where your motivation is a pursuit of the truth and a pursuit of the truth with somebody else. We can think all day and bang our heads against the wall, but there’s something really powerful about drawing on the experience and expertise of someone else. So if you find yourself in this scenario where you’re tempted to ask one of these prosecutorial questions, one of the bits of advice that we have in the book is see if you can back up and ask a question that comes out of some genuine curiosity. And it’s not always possible, like you might just find that the topic is too sort of psychologically hot, like you just can’t get yourself into that mode. But oftentimes you can ask questions like, “Look, in your experience, what are the sort of things that have shaped your thinking” on whatever the topic is.

And when you’re motivated by that genuine pursuit of the truth, that genuine curiosity, we find the results are better, not just because the relationships are preserved and are better and this is a more virtuous way of proceeding, but you’re surprised. You get answers that can unseat assumptions that you held and they can actually push you in the direction of the truth about some issue that you might genuinely care about. Might change the way that you think about some practical issue in your life.

Brett McKay: No, I like how you break down… There’s three types of questions, level of questions you can go through when you’re trying to do this type of strong questioning. The first one is a starting point question, where you’re having a discussion with somebody or even with yourself, right? When you’re trying to figure out what you believe about something? Yes. Well, when did you first start thinking this way about that topic, was there a moment? It’s completely neutral, ’cause you’re just genuinely curious. The next one is a philosophical goal question. What would that look like? What’s the philosophical goal question, after you’ve done that starting point question?

Paul Blaschko: I think picking a topic might be helpful here, so with respect to work, say, you can ask somebody, what role do you want work to play in your life? Is work a source of meaning for you? Is it a source of ultimate meaning? Or is it good because it gets you something else? Is your work something that you do because you’ve got a family to feed and you really want your focus and attention to be on your family? So what is it that you’re really aiming at? What is it that provides that more ultimate meaning versus the sort of instrumental value in your life, so that’s the question that leaps to my mind immediately.

Brett McKay: Okay, and so you’re just trying to figure what is the goal you’re trying to achieve with that? And then the next question to ask is the means question. What’s a means question?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, so how are you gonna get from here to there? Right? So from your starting point, I suppose your starting point is, I feel like I work too much, or I feel like I work too little, and I’m not sure what to do about that. Okay, now given that my goal is to make sure that my work is not becoming the source of ultimate meaning, rather it’s sort of serving this greater good in my life, what’s gonna take me from that starting point to that goal? Does it mean shifting the kind of work that I’m doing or shifting the way that I think about the work that I’m doing? Yeah, it’s just an intermediate, what are the steps that I have to take to make sure that my philosophical life is well-aligned.

Brett McKay: And how do you have these discussions particularly with someone else without it delving into emotive shouting. So this is something your colleague, Allister MacIntyre, wrote about in “After Virtue” and he talked about, makes his diagnosis. Why does moral debate seems so shrill in the modern age? And he makes this case, well, people are on different pages, they see the world differently, and so the only thing they turn to is this shouting, and I think everyone’s experienced particularly online. So how can you have these really important discussions without it devolving to that?

Meghan Sullivan: Here’s where I think that if you’re concerned with living a philosophical life, and we argue in the book that one of the first virtues you should develop a concern for in your proceed of the good life is concerned for the truth, just wanting to be somebody that actually cares about the truth, including the truth about other people. It’s really important when you decide you’re gonna have a hard conversation about politics or religion, or about whether you should be a vegetarian, or whether somebody is making a mistake to quit their job. Before you get into this with somebody who you are likely to disagree with, first you have to check your own intentions. So are you intending to have an argument with them? In which case, you might be really effective at provoking the argument, and I suspect a lot of “ethicists” find themselves constantly in arguments because they go looking for them. But if you really come into it with a spirit of humility and thinking, I really just wanna know the truth about how we should be living together in, insert, the office, our school system right now, our country. I wanna know the truth about this question. First, you’ve kinda checked your intentions, and then the next thing you need to do is make sure you’ve got enough of the other virtues growing in your life and in this relationship to be able to signal that you care about the truth.

One thing that’s interesting about the Greek virtue ethicist like Plato and Aristotle, they think you can’t just have one virtue in isolation. If I wanna have a hard conversation with Paul or with my neighbor about a political question, but I really wanna demonstrate concern for the truth, I also have to show Karen concern for Paul, I have to show a willingness to listen to him, I have to be able to register a certain amount of humility and self-understanding about my own political views, but also courage to defend things that might be very controversial. It requires a great deal of skill and sophistication really fast, and I think just chalking this up to saying, Well, the fact that we’re having debates on Facebook is the reason we can’t talk to each other anymore, or the fact that the political parties have this really, really contingent way that they’re set up right now means that we just can’t talk to each other anymore.

I think that doesn’t do justice to the fact that we know from 2500 years of philosophy that folks have always had a somewhat difficult time having philosophical conversations, have thought that they had to work on it a little bit, but if they were willing to put in the effort and try to develop those antecedent virtues in themselves and in their relationships, it results in magic. You get the enlightenment out of those kinds of relationships, you get the platonic dialogues out of Socrates’s friendships and pursuit of virtue.

Brett McKay: Okay, so you check yourself and then I guess you just have to… When you’re chilling with someone else, you’re kind of filling them out and maybe if they’re putting up… They’ve got that, they’re just kinda putting up a fight, they’re putting up that shield, do you just disengage or just keep trying to show, through example, I’m not trying to attack you. How do you deal with that? Again, this is a virtue you have to develop, a skill you have to develop. Your experience, how do you help other people kind of play catch with you with this debate?

Meghan Sullivan: I’ve been thinking about this a lot because obviously we live in a time of many fraught philosophical conversations. I was having one just yesterday with a colleague who really disagrees with me politically, and I was reminded of another thing Aristotle says, One swallow does not make a spring. Developing and showing virtue, showing that you really care about somebody else, wanting to pursue the truth on a question with somebody else, it’s probably not gonna happen over a single coffee or a single well-executed social media encounter. It’s the kind of thing that if we’re gonna make a difference in each other’s lives, if we’re gonna help guide each other out of our various caves, it’s gonna happen over time, the way all virtues are built up and manifest over time. It’s gonna be a repeated investment though there’s probably gonna be a little period of frustration when we feel like we’re not making any progress. And what a virtuous person will do is play a long game in these kinds of discussions and modes of inquiry. Whereas somebody who’s like a Sophist or somebody who only cares about immediate results might do whatever it takes to get somebody to change their mind. I think probably virtuous people don’t change their minds super quickly, because a lot of times their beliefs and philosophical attitudes are the sorts of things that have grown up along with the kind of person that they’ve been trying to make themselves into.

Brett McKay: Okay, so I guess so the take-away there, be open to the truth, be curious, and again, keep using your reasoning, Aristotle says as long as you’re using your reasoning to figure that out, you’re on the right track.

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, yeah, I think that’s right. I think there are also a lot of opportunities in dialogue with people to demonstrate virtues, and some of the key virtues you’re just manifesting a genuine concern for the truth, it’s gonna lead you to sometimes admit that you don’t know everything in a particular conversation, I found that this is one of the most powerful tools in my conversations with my Mom. This is an example we use in the book, but it’s just a real life example for me. My mom and I we agree about some things, we disagree about a ton of things and we love debating, we love dialoguing, we love talking about this stuff because it means a lot to us. And I notice a difference in the conversations that involve each of us taking a step back and saying, You know, I hadn’t actually thought about that. I’m not sure. Or you might be right about that. And when one person is able to do that and just sort of demonstrate, Look, I care more about the truth, and I care more about both of us getting to the truth than I do about defeating you or about protecting some part of my identity. I find that’s a really powerful thing. Like Meghan mentions, this is something that really is most likely to happen, most natural in the context of a personal relationship.

Yeah, I’ve become more selective over time in the kind of engagement that I’m willing to do on the Internet, just arguing with people on Facebook or comments or whatever, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I think, especially if you have some pre-existing relationship or if you’re able to build that up over time with friends online or whatever, just being willing to say, Yeah, I don’t know about that, or that’s a really interesting perspective that you’re bringing. I’ve never heard anybody say something like that. Tell me where it comes from. Give me some background here, give me some context. I think this can really defuse some of the tension and some of the sort of defensiveness that we bring to a lot of these conversations.

Brett McKay: We’re gonna take a quick break for a word with my sponsors. And now back to the show. Okay, so one other part of living a flourishing life is doing the morally right thing, and that can be hard to figure out what the morally right thing to do in certain situations is, and you look at other schools of philosophy to figure out how do other philosophies determine what’s the morally right thing to do, and you look at one school called consequentialism to figure out what the morally right thing to do. So how does consequentialism determine morality? And then why do you think it’s lacking?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, so really broadly consequentialists focus on the consequences of your action and trying to figure out whether or not that action is good. It’s a really simplistic way to put it, but if you’re making a decision about whether it’s okay in war to bomb a certain city, you’re asking, Well, okay, what are the consequences? Are they overall gonna be better or worse if we do this versus if we don’t do it, or if we do it in a more targeted way or something like that. So again, a real emphasis on the consequences versus paying a lot of attention to the intentions and the motivation behind a particular action, why is it that you’re performing an action? Now, we have a couple of chapters where we take consequentialism and compare it to virtue ethics, and where we think virtue ethics really has an advantage, gives us thinking about our lives, our inner lives, our intentions that are really important. So let me just give you one example. In the chapter on responsibility, there’s a really famous case that you’ve probably come across if you’ve read about philosophy or if you’ve seen “The Good Place” or any of these sort of things.

It’s called the trolley problem. And the idea is, you’re standing next to a trolley track, the trolley is hurtling down the track and there are several people who are on the track. You can flip a switch and change it so that it hits one person rather than say five people. The question is, should you flip this switch? And one thing that’s really interesting is that as you change the details in the trolley problem, people’s moral intuitions change whether or not they think you should flip the switch changes. In the classic example, a lot of people say, “Yeah, of course, I flip the switch, one person dead is a better consequence than five people. Of course, you should flip this witch.” But then researchers will ask people, “Okay, well, what if you have to push a person onto the track to stop the trolley in order to prevent five people from being killed. Now, far fewer people will say, “Yeah, you should definitely do that.” And if you’re a consequentialist, this is just manifest bias and irrationality. You think the consequences are exactly the same. It’s just that when you get into the messy details, people aren’t always willing to do what they reflectively know is the morally right thing to do. Virtue ethicists see things differently, right? They think, Look, a lot of times the personal details, the really particular facts of a situation are gonna make a huge difference as to whether or not your action is right or wrong.

Brett McKay: But it’s not that consequences don’t matter in virtue ethics, right, ’cause it’s not just intention, ’cause if it was that it could be like, well, people intend to do helpful things all the time, then ended up hurting people. I don’t think Aristotle would be like, Well, he was virtuous ’cause he had great intentions. Am I correct on that?

Paul Blaschko: Oh, absolutely, yeah, yeah, yeah. The consequences have to come in both because a reasonable person is gonna be able to foresee characteristic consequences of certain kinds of actions, and so, yeah, you’ve certainly gotta take those into account. You can’t just say, “Well, my intention is good. I’m gonna throw this baseball at somebody’s face. My intention is just to give them a baseball.” It doesn’t work that way, right? So there’s this kind of give and take where figuring out the accurate description of your action, it’s actually a really complex process. It involves this kind of phronesis or this practical wisdom that we were talking about earlier. So absolutely, the consequences are gonna matter, it’s just that they’re not the only thing that matters, or they’re not the primary thing that matters for the virtue ethicist.

Meghan Sullivan: And there’s a certain kind of consequence that the virtue ethicists are aiming at, that the consequentialists are not. So the consequentialists wanna pump good consequences out into the world, lives saved or happiness maximized. The virtue ethicist has a goal in mind, something that they’re targeting with their decisions and intentions and actions, namely caring for their soul and developing, finding new eudaimonia. So we can absolutely criticize people for not intending good enough things. If I’m talking to my youngest brother who’s home from college and I ask him what he plans to do with his degree next year, and he says, Eh, I’m really just intending to play video games for the next decade, it’s not a malicious intention, but it’s not a good enough intention for him to be living a good life or to be living up to his moral potential, and it’s totally the kind of intention that could come in for criticism for just being unambitious.

Brett McKay: And the section on responsibility and agency really got me thinking about how I think about myself as a moral agent because it forces you to think, Am I as good as I really think I am? And it could be, I do the things I do because… Not ’cause I intended it, but it just sort of like… It just happened that way. It’s like moral luck. I haven’t had to face any really big moral ethical dilemmas, but I say, Well, you know, I’m a good person, but I’ve never really had to do… You know what I’m saying? I didn’t have to, there was no decision on my part to be a good person, if that makes sense.

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, at least two really important issues that you’re raising here, one is having the self-knowledge, knowing whether you actually have the virtues, that’s really hard. And a lot of times, we don’t know or we can’t know unless our virtues have been tested in some significant way, and I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of literature, there are a lot of great movies or novels written about this question. Somebody’s tested and their whole life is upended because they realize like, “Gosh I thought I was a courageous person. And when the moment came to act, I couldn’t do it, and so how do I reconcile my view of myself?” Another really important issue that you bring up, and that we talk a little bit about in the book in our class that the book is based on is this question of how our environment and how our situation impacts our actions, the things that we do. There’s a whole field now in philosophy devoted to asking this question. It’s often called situationism.

And there’s empirical evidence that our situation, the environment that we partly create and help create around ourselves, but also that we just find ourselves in, it has a huge impact on what we end up doing. Now that’s… I don’t know, I think an interesting wrinkle for the virtue ethicist and one that Aristotle cared a lot about, he thought a lot about the importance of community, making sure that you’re not in a sort of morally corrupt environment was really important, but also just creating the kind of community that enables virtue and enables people to act virtuously was really important. But I think both those issues are super important, and if you’re coming from the virtue ethics point of view, there are things that merit a lot of reflection.

Brett McKay: It reminded me of a quote from Nietzsche, who I’ve heard, I think Robert Solomon is like a Nietzsche expert, described Nietzsche as sort of kind of a virtue ethicist in some ways.

Meghan Sullivan: Oh, yeah.

Brett McKay: And he said this, he said, Verily, I have often laughed at the weaklings who thought themselves good because they had no claws.

Meghan Sullivan: Nietzsche was so mean. My god.

Brett McKay: It’s mean but it really can be convicting, it’s like, I think I’m a really good person, but is it because I just kinda go with the flow and I’m a laid back guy, is that why I’m a good guy? And this gets to the point you make the argument, you challenge people to do is to come up develop some morally thick stories about yourself, like ethically thick stories about yourself. What do you mean by that?

Meghan Sullivan: I’ll share it here. We try really hard to show in this book something that Paul and I both believe, which is that this high level philosophical advice can also be deeply practical and can affect our 21st Century lives. And over the last year, I’ve thought a lot about this responsibility chapter and what it means to try to share your moral intentions and your moral stories with other people, and have really tried to make it a practice when I think I screwed something up, or I’ve hurt somebody, which only happens in small clawless ways in my own boring life. But try to make a practice of being really explicit of saying like, Here’s where I’m taking responsibility, this is where I think I did something cruel and using the morally thick terms like, This was cruel or that was a bit cowardly or that was rash, in an apology that are like verbally or in an email. And one thing I’ve noticed is starting to talk about myself using more morally rich vocabulary is disarming to other people.

We’re just not used to hearing other people… We’re used to people saying like, I’m sorry. And we’re used to people saying, They’re good and I’m bad, or I’m good at they’re bad, is much more likely, really thin moral concepts to just try to judge like thumbs up, thumbs down. People, I’ve found, especially as I’ve tried to build out this practice in my day-to-day life, get a little bit more freaked-out when you send them an email being like, I think it was unjust for me to not call on you when you had a question at that meeting last week. Notice they don’t quite know what to do with you. And I think maybe that is a good thing. Learning how to talk about ourselves and our moral lives in new ways, opens up new kinds of conversations that might weird people out in our social lives right now, but also open up new opportunities for us to talk about things that don’t seem like they’re right or that we wanna improve.

Brett McKay: That’s a good point. I think one of the points that Alasdair MacIntyre makes in “After Virtue” is that, yeah, you’re right, people, they don’t know how to speak in a moral language, so it weirds them out when people do. And so I guess one way to counter that is just start doing it with yourself and people will be like… It’ll scratch an itch that people didn’t know they had.

Paul Blaschko: I think that’s right. I think one other thing that I love on this point from the MacIntyre book is the importance of stories like Meghan’s talking about, and making sure that those stories are accurate. So we tell stories all the time that either excuse or empower us. I use the simple example with my students, I show up late at a meeting and I say, “Ah gosh, the traffic was so terrible,” and in doing that, I’m excusing myself. I’m refusing to take responsibility. Maybe rightly so. Maybe the traffic was terrible and it was unpredictable. But another way I could go is, I could say, “Look, I didn’t care enough to predict how bad the traffic was gonna be.” I didn’t sort of get up early enough or whatever it might be. And if that’s the true story, it’s really important that we’re able to tell it, and that we’re able to tell it about ourselves. And it requires all kinds of virtues and self-knowledge and vulnerability. So I think that’s another way in which the advice that we even get from “After Virtue”, which is that we’ve gotta be able to tell these narratives about our lives and big picture narratives about our life stories, but also these kind of small interpersonal stories that we tell to each other. I think that’s absolutely crucial for the moral life.

Brett McKay: Yeah. So take Richard Feynman’s advice, “Don’t fool yourself, but always be on the lookout. Always be aware that you’re probably trying to fool yourself. So you always have to be on guard of that.” Okay, so I try to go for an accurate representation of your moral life. Maybe in some instances, you have to take less credit for your vices, and I think some people are just really hard on themselves, but I think the thing that’s probably the hardest is taking less credit maybe for the good you do. I think a lot of people think they’re better than they really are. But not always, but I think it’s always asking yourself those questions. You also devote a chapter to our relationship with work. What can virtue ethics teach us about our work life or help us have a better work life?

Paul Blaschko: This is a great question and one that I’m thinking about a ton right now. So let me just give one example in which I think philosophers can really help in a practical way with the way that we think about work in our life. So Aristotle, he talks about how action, just doing things in the world, producing things, how that is a source of meaning. We go out and we sort of choose our ends and we act toward those ends, and so we can get really caught up in this active life, in making sure that we’re busy and investing a lot in our achievements at work. But one thing that Aristotle really encourages us to do is to think about the why behind any particular action that we’re doing, because he thinks the more you think about the reasoning, the more you’re gonna realize everything you do ultimately aims…

This goes all the way back to the beginning of the conversation, it ultimately aims at eudaimonia, it aims at flourishing. And sometimes in the moment, if you’re working really hard on a bunch of projects, you can lose sight of that. And so here’s a quick example that I ask my students, I say, “Look, why are you in college right now?” And they say, “Well, because we wanna get jobs.” And you say, “Well, why do you wanna get a job?” You say, “Well, because I want money.” And you say, “Well, why do you want money?” You can go back all the way with this chain of reasoning, and there are several things, if you end up at a place where you can point out, “Well, this is the good thing that all of those efforts are gonna serve,” then you’re in a good way, right?

And this happens to me all the time. If you realize like, “Gosh, I’m really just doing all of these things because it feels meaningful, it sort of fulfills this kind of desire, this need that I have, but it’s coming at the expense of these other good things in my life that I really should be paying more attention to.” Then he thinks, “Okay, that chain of reasoning, it’s sort of vain and empty.” And you’ve gotta make sure that you’re not being distracted by this life of action from what really matters, from what really counts. So that’s just one sort of way in which this distinction, I think, can help us sort out what’s actually essential in the work that we’re doing from what just feels essential or feels really meaningful. But I think there’s a lot of philosophers who help us think about these exact kind of issues.

Meghan Sullivan: We talk about this in the book, and I’ve thought about it a lot as we’ve brought all these new stories recently about people changing jobs and the Great Resignation. We live in a version of capitalism where a lot of really well-meaning workplaces claim to satisfy our deepest philosophical needs. The case study we use in the book is Airbnb really selling their employees on this idea that they’re a family, and it turns out that when the first wave of the pandemic hit and Airbnb had to lay off a bunch of workers, they felt really alienated as a result because family members usually don’t fire other family members, and so they had this like whiplash. They had this one goal and kind of identity in mind but it didn’t feel like, at the end of the day, it was real or sustainable.

We all wanna be part of wonderful workplaces, but understanding the distinctive kinds of common goods that a workplace can promote or not, which kinds of work maybe will never have a common good behind it, or which kinds of goods a workplace can supply, and which other goods we need to get elsewhere in our lives, those are really live questions, especially for folks who are just in the middle, or at the beginnings of their careers right now. So one of the things we try to do in the book, is show how these questions about good work are, at their root, questions about how we pursue the good life in common and what the limits of it are based on the kind of organization that we’re finding ourselves a part of.

Brett McKay: So it sounds like, and correct me if I’m wrong, Aristotle would say, “Work is a means, so don’t confuse the means for an end.” And a lot of people do that. They think, “Well, work is the thing that’s supposed to give me meaning.” And Aristotle, “Well, it could be part of that, but it’s not the thing.”

Meghan Sullivan: I think that’s part of it, though. I don’t know. It depends probably on what you mean by “work.” But if you think of your work as a place where you have some of your most important relationships, like, with your co-workers, if you’re a teacher, with some of your students, and it’s a place where you allocate a certain amount of your time. It might be that you do it in order to get money, like for totally instrumental ends, to get money in order to support other aspects of your good life. But for most people… And Paul and I talk about this in the book, it’s more mixed up. There’s a dimension of friendship and personal development that’s really important at work, alongside earning money, and some of those same virtues are gonna be really important in family life, and spending money, and consumerism might be a really important part of your family life, as well. The lines get blurred really quickly, which means that you’ve got to ask the same questions about happiness, and personal development, and ethics in all of the different worlds. There’s never gonna be this just clean break between your life life and your work life.

Brett McKay: So how do you navigate? Let’s say someone is listening and they’re like, “Man, my job is burning me out. It’s just grinding me down. But there’s parts of it that I like. There’s co-workers I like, and I like that it allows me to live near my family.” How do you untangle all that?

Meghan Sullivan: I think one question… There’s gonna be a bunch of questions here. First is just empathizing with folks oftentimes, not just in our work communities, but in our families and in our political communities, it’s not always kumbaya, and we know that working on the common good together in the different places we find ourselves is sometimes gonna be a real slog. And a lot of people, I think, are discovering that as they’ve gone back to work. But I think one question to ask folks is, if they can take a step back and realize how they’re feeling about their work right now, which is almost certainly influenced by the very weird conditions in which a lot of us are working right now.

But that’s the question of how you feel about happiness. What about the philosophical question, what kind of person is this investment making you into? Are you developing virtues in your workplace? Are you developing capacities, or forms of agency that are enabling you in other parts of your life to grow and to pursue eudaimonia? If the answer to those questions are no, probably you need to really rethink how you’re making this huge investment in your life. But if the answers to those questions are, yes, kind of, which I think for a lot of us, it is, they realize… I’ll take a concrete case study, my Mom, she’s a receptionist in a dental office. Her job is super hard. She’s yelling at people to wear face masks all day, she’s filling out healthcare billing reports. She does not have the kind of job that causes her to feel happiness every single minute of the work day, but she loves her job and finds it quite meaningful, and if you ask her why, it’s because she has this morally thick story that’s true in her mind about how when she does her job really well, it helps people get dental care that they really need, and that’s meaningful for her.

She really loves her co-workers and she likes celebrating their birthdays and observing life with them. When they have babies, the whole family gets together in the office and celebrates that life together. Work is a place where she develops and expresses these really important social virtues. At the end of the day, you know, does she think that her particular work would be irreplaceable by really smart dental billing AI 20 years from now? No, definitely not, but she doesn’t need that kind of permanence or all-encompassing nature of work for it to be meaningful. All she needs is those two true stories about helping people get their cavities filled, and the particular people in her office that she loves and gets to care for when she’s on her game at work.

Brett McKay: Okay, so another section you devote to is about love. And you all make the case that… We often think of love as a verb, or it’s action, and Aristotle would say, “Yeah, there is a part of that where it’s action-oriented.” But you also say that the love is about attention. What do you mean by that?

Meghan Sullivan: We haven’t talked about this guy so much, but he’s really important to us both in our teaching and in the book is Plato, who thinks that there is a very important part of the good life that involves just seeing things the right way. He thinks about it like seeing the sunlight when you get out of the cave, seeing the form of the good, and really understanding it. It’s very visual, perceptual but of the human aspiration that we get from Plato. And in “The Love Book” we introduce readers to a neo-Platonist philosopher, Iris Murdoch, who thinks that the essence of love in the good life, is not what we oftentimes think it is. We oftentimes think that loving other people is doing things to them or for them, so giving them hugs, or throwing them birthday parties, or marrying them, building our entire lives around, these are all actions. Murdoch thinks that that’s an important part of the ways that we care for other people, but that’s not all of it. A really important part and dimension of love is just how we see other people in our mind’s eye. And she gives some really interesting cases about the kind of work that we can do in our inner lives, to become more loving and to become more attentive to other people and their good lives.

And this is an ancient idea. So the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers talk about our friends and the people that we love as our second selves, as people whose good lives, and stories, and intentions are so important to us that we feel as though their lives are joined with our own, even if we can’t make decisions and direct their lives. One of the things we try to do in the book is, one, just introduce these ideas, which can seem a little mystical at first, this is totally true of Plato’s philosophy. It can seem a little mystic, but actually once you start to think about it in terms of practices for how you think about people in your life, you realize that it’s deepening how you appreciate them and how you’re able to access some of the goods of love and friendship in your life.

Brett McKay: Okay, so how do you develop that attention? That sort of loving attention.

Meghan Sullivan: One thing I love that Iris Murdoch, is she gives this really simple habit that, at least strikes me as being very effective. She talks about this example of a mother whose son has just gotten married to this woman. And this mother doesn’t like her daughter-in-law. She doesn’t know what it is, there’s just something about this young woman that her son married that she just like doesn’t find her attractive, or compelling, or interesting at all. But this mother also really cares about her relationship with her son, so she’s always super polite to this daughter-in-law. She is very kind, and tries very, very hard to welcome her into family life. The mother-in-law realizes that this isn’t enough. And so Iris Murdoch says, “She develops this practice where she causes herself to keep looking again at this woman.”

Basically, every time she starts to have this thought of like, “Ugh, Sheila, Sheila is so awful, I can’t believe we have to have dinner with Sheila again.” She hits pause and says, “I see her that way. I know I see her that way, but maybe the problem is with me, maybe I’m petty and small-minded. And in fact, I should look at her again, and try again to see what’s really beautiful about her and the way that my son sees her.” And Murdoch says over time, this woman, as a result of this practice, might come to see her daughter-in-law in a new way, to pay attention to her and appreciate her in a new way. And Murdoch thinks, “That’s growing in love.” Like, she’s done this really important thing in her mental life to help her grow as a kind of person who’s able to love this daughter-in-law. Somebody that’s gonna become an important relationship to her going forward. And so that simple, even that simple practice of just being able to notice the maybe short-sighted or false stories that internally we tell ourselves about other people, and then trying really hard to look and find the deeper truth, or find the deeper value in there, I think that that’s a very important virtue for love.

Brett McKay: And so this goes back to the idea that intentions matter in virtue ethics. You don’t just treat your daughter-in-law well because you’re duty-bound. ‘Cause you can do that and be like, “ugh geez, I hate this. Whatever.” But virtue ethics says, “No, you also have to… The intention behind that act also has to be loving, as well.”

Paul Blaschko: Yeah, and it also is a way of seeing how the intentions of the other person, like the inner life, the richness of that inner life can really impact how you relate to them. So another practice that we recommend in that chapter for cultivating loving attention is reading literature, like reading great novels, and watching great films, or reading great poems. And I think one of the reasons why that’s really powerful is because, we’re often trying to reconstruct the inner lives of other people, but we do it in a very haphazard way. We think like, “They just did this thing, and this is how it impacts me, and this must be sort of the reason.” We have this very sort of, simplistic theory. But in literature, you’re presented with the external actions of a person, but also their entire inner life, the richness of their inner life often, and this can help you get outside of the way that you see the world, and really have access to other people’s experience in deep and important ways. One of the books, the novels that we talk about in that chapter, and that has had a huge impact on both Meghan’s life and my life, but in very different ways is, “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.

In my case, I read “The Road” when I was in college, and I was kinda just trying to sort out life and think like, “Which direction do I wanna sort of go in my career, in my life,” and that sort of thing. And the depiction of fatherhood, the access to the sort of characteristic feelings that a father has for his child, his son in this case, especially in the extreme circumstances, that kind of apocalyptic end of the world circumstances that are depicted in that novel, just struck something in me, and really made it, sort of, an ideal. It was an exemplary kind of way of living and approaching the world that it was that moment as I was reading this, I thought like, “Gosh, that is the kind of inner life that I would absolutely love to have with my own children. I would love to be a father.” So I think reading literature, just picking up novels, especially if the protagonists of the characters are very different from you and have very different life experiences. It’s just another way that you can cultivate this attentiveness to the way that different people approach the world.

Brett McKay: No, I love “The Road.” I read it once a year. Destroys me every time. I sob like a baby, and I’m like, “How do… ”

Paul Blaschko: Yeah. 

Meghan Sullivan: You read it on Christmas Eve?

Paul Blaschko: Yeah.

Meghan Sullivan: Gather around children.

Brett McKay: Gather around children. No, I start like hugging my kids, and they’re like, “What’s wrong with you, Dad?” And they’re like… “Nothing.” We just did an episode with a Cormac McCarthy scholar. We talked about “The Road” And I…

Meghan Sullivan: Oh, nice.

Brett McKay: I broke down. I started crying when it… The last scene about carrying the fire. Oh, geez.

Paul Blaschko: Oh, gosh.

Brett McKay: I’m getting choked up now. To have this, cultivating this loving attention, this goes back to how can you have these, these really live debates, moral philosophical debates without them descending into acrimony. If you bring that loving attention to the conversation, people can sense that, and it disarms them. Maybe not right away. A lot of people think, “Well, if I just do this and people… ” Like Meghan was saying, it’s something that happens over time, people can get that you really care about them, and you care about the relationship, and because you care about the relationship, you can have these really hard discussions without worrying about the relationship deteriorating.

Paul Blaschko: Absolutely.

Meghan Sullivan: I think that’s right. If you want a good reputation for being, I think good at this form of philosophical attention, you want people to think you’re a little bit weird. Socrates is our great like mascot for this, because every time people… People are always commenting when they’re in conversations with Socrates, like, “Man, this got weird, or This is surprising.” And I think if you care about this dimension of your philosophical life with your family members, or your friends, your co-workers. You want them to be thinking, “Huh, I didn’t know exactly where that was gonna go.”

Brett McKay: Alright, so be weird. You wanna throw people off. So the final part you discuss in the book is, How do you balance action and contemplation? And one of the things I’m drawn to Nicomachean, you know, Aristotelean virtue ethics, is, it’s very practical. It can help you answer questions about what to do and just sort of a workaday. Like it answers those Tuesday morning questions. It’s like, “What am I supposed to do at work? And when the kids are getting kicked out of school… ” I mean, virtue ethics can help with that, but Aristotle also thought, “Okay, that’s important.” But he doesn’t think action is the most important. He thought contemplation was really important. So how do you balance the two? What did Aristotle have to say about that?

Meghan Sullivan: Aristotle, he’s really perplexed by this question. You read “The Nicomachean Ethics”, like you said, Brad, and the first eight chapters of the book that we’ve got are pretty practical, and he builds it as a practical guide to happiness through philosophy. But he gets to the end and he’s like, “I don’t think I’ve captured what happiness is for humans.” And he thinks back to his teacher Plato, who thought that attention and contemplation and understanding the world are really important dimensions of what it is for creatures like us to be who we are. And Aristotle kinda is like, he’s thinking about how we can reconcile that with everything he said about developing courage and generosity and friendships.

The way we think about this really age-old problem in virtue ethics is, if you think that action alone is gonna help you achieve eudaimonia, there are gonna be three kinds of problems that are gonna be very hard for you to solve. First, if you only pursue a life of the action, you face this problem of sometimes your best played, most intentional, well-reasoned projects are still gonna fail. You’re gonna have this really awesome idea for a project at work, and then a global pandemic is gonna come around and you’re never gonna be able to complete that project. So if you tie your happiness entirely to the life of action, there’s gonna be parts of it that are extraordinarily vulnerable to things outside of your control, which sucks, if it’s something as important as the meaning of your life on the line.

The second thing that the life of action is gonna fall short on is, if you succeed in all of your projects. So you think that developing courage and generosity and friendships are the crux of the good life, what happens when your friends die? What happens when you’ve invested yourself thoroughly in raising children and family life, but then you’ve succeeded, and your children move away, and start their own families? Or you’ve invested yourself so thoroughly in finding the common good at work, but then you retire? What’s gonna backstop or be your goal that you’re searching for after that, if you’ve only ever been pursuing the life of action?

And then finally, and something Aristotle spends a lot of time on at the end of the book, is this idea that there’s something special about humans, in the fact that we ask these philosophical questions to begin with. We wonder about things, we analyze things, we notice metaphors or similarities in things. And a lot of that noticing and thinking sometimes has nothing to do with what we’re gonna plan next. That part of us needs to be fed and nurtured. That’s our contemplative part. So the challenge, and there’s a reason why we save this till near the end of the book, the challenge for somebody who feels like they’re really starting to get eudaimonia, the good life, in their sights, is to try to figure out how they’re gonna incorporate this continuous, strange, distinctively human thinking, attending activity, into all of the really cool and other people-focused good life practices that they’ve learned to pursue.

Brett McKay: And one of the ways you suggest adding some more contemplation into your day is doing The Examen of St. Ignatius. And there’s a lot of different ways you can do it. It can work for you if you’re a theist or not a theist, and we actually have an article about that on our site that we’ll link to in the show notes. Well, Meghan, Paul, this has been a great conversation. There’s so much more we could talk about. Where can people go to learn more about the book and your work?

Meghan Sullivan: So our book comes out on January 4th and you can buy it on the Penguin website, or Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, Target. There’s also an audio book, if you like to do your philosophy when you’re in the car. And for your podcast listeners, they very well might like to listen to philosophy. And then of course, you can Google us. Look at “God and the Good Life”, the University of Notre Dame, if you wanna see what we teach here. And we’re just so excited to hear from people who are trying to build some more intentional philosophical practices into their lives this year.

Brett McKay: Well, Meghan Sullivan, Paul Blaschko, thanks for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Paul Blaschko: Thank you so much, Brett.

Meghan Sullivan: Thanks, Brett.

Brett McKay: My guests here were Meghan Sullivan and Paul Blaschko. They’re the co-authors of the book, “The Good Life Method.” It’s available at and bookstores everywhere. Make sure you check our shows at, where you can find links to resources, we delve deeper into this topic.

Well, that wraps up another edition of The AOM podcast. Make sure you check out our website where you can find our podcast archives with thousands of articles about pretty much anything you think of. And if you’d like to enjoy ad-free episodes of the AOM Podcast, you can do so on Stitcher Premium. Head over to, sign up, use code manly at the checkout for a free month trial. Once you signed up, download the Stitcher app on android or ios and you start enjoying ad free episodes of the AOM Podcast. And if you have done so already, I’d appreciate it if you take one minute to give us review on apple podcast or Stitcher. It helps out a lot. And if you’ve done that already, thank you. Please consider sharing the show with a friend or family member who you think would something out of it. As always, thank you for the continued support. Until next time, this is Brett McKay reminding all listening to the podcast, but put what you’ve heard into action.

Related Posts