Chapter 11: Case Study: Environmental Virtue Ethics

Chapter 11 Discussion Questions

Reflection Questions:

Kupfer (1999) discusses the movie Groundhog Day in terms of Phil Connors’ growth in virtue — from a stage of egoistic hedonism to a state of eudaimonia born of a virtuous life. Summarize the Kupfer chapter and spend at least a paragraph discussing how the story of Groundhog Day resonates with Johnson’s chapter on “The Virtues of Fishing.” Feel free to add any critique of Kupfer or Johnson based on your own interpretation of the movie or your views on virtue.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does Kupfer mean by, “Egoistic hedonism,” and which examples of this can be found in the movie Groundhog Day?
  2. What do you consider the primary turning point in Phil Connors’ personal transformation?
  3. Kupfer states that, “A life of egoistic hedonism is necessarily self-defeating and filled with ironies.” What does he mean by this?
  4. How do relationships between virtuous people and relationships between egoistic hedonists differ according to Kupfer? How does Phil and Rita’s relationship demonstrate this? Would the message of the movie change if their relationship was purely platonic?
  5. What is eudaimonia, and how was Phil ultimately able to achieve it?
  6. Kupfer spends a significant share of time speaking about the power of participating in activities for their own sakes. How do Groundhog Day and “The Virtues of Fishing” demonstrate this?
  7. In what ways is this week’s material relevant to the discussion of Religion and the Environment?

Connection Questions:

  1. How does Kupfer’s article relate to Iris Murdoch’s idea of “unselfing?” Is unselfing always a path to virtue and happiness?
  2. Would David Loy and Reinhold Neibuhr agree with this article? Why or why not?
  3. How might Baer’s concept of Ratio and Intellectus explain why enjoying art, literature, and music is an effective way to build virtue?


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Gregory E Hitzhusen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.