Chapter 17 virtue ethics

Aristotle virtue ethics summary

Modern virtue ethicists have developed their theories around a central role for character and virtue and claim that this gives them a unique understanding of morality. Academic Tools. The fully virtuous do what they should without a struggle against contrary desires; the continent have to control a desire or temptation to do otherwise. Human nature is such that virtue is not exercised in opposition to self-interest, but rather is the quintessential component of human flourishing. Of course, this untutored understanding can be clarified and improved, and it is one of the tasks of the virtue ethicist to help us do precisely that. The virtuous response cannot be captured in a rule or principle, which an agent can learn and then act virtuously. The best available science today including evolutionary theory and psychology supports rather than undermines the ancient Greek assumption that we are social animals, like elephants and wolves and unlike polar bears. The most important distinguishing factor has to do with how motivations and dispositions are taken to matter for the purposes of explaining other normative qualities. A person with a certain character can be relied upon to act consistently over a time. We may say that Shelley has either succumbed to a vice of excess and is profligate with her time rather than generous, or we may accept that she is generous rather than profligate and accept the uncomfortable conclusion and say that this virtuous character trait is helping her to flourish. Putting up a single bookshelf does not make you a skilled builder any more than a single act of courage makes you a courageous and virtuous person.

So the virtue is only justified because of the consequences it brings about. Author Information. Murdoch, I. The emphasis on character development and the role of the emotions allows virtue ethics to have a plausible account of moral psychologywhich is lacking in deontology and consequentialism.

Related to this objection is a more general objection against the idea that well-being is a master value and that all other things are valuable only to the extent that they contribute to it.

Different virtues are concerned with different fields. Charity prompts me to kill the person who would be better off dead, but justice forbids it. Courage aims to control fear and handle danger, while generosity aims to share time, talents, or possessions with others in ways that benefit them.

It's about having the appropriate inner states. Working beyond the limits that can reasonably be expected of her, we may wish to describe Shelley as virtuous given her generous personality. Nevertheless, the complaint that virtue ethics does not produce codifiable principles is still a commonly voiced criticism of the approach, expressed as the objection that it is, in principle, unable to provide action-guidance.

questions about virtue ethics

The target-centered view developed by Christine Swantonby contrast, begins with our existing conceptions of the virtues. Of course, the same sorts of dilemmas are generated by conflicts between deontological rules. An honest person cannot be identified simply as one who, for example, tells the truth because it is the truth, for one can have the virtue of honesty without being tactless or indiscreet.

example of virtue ethics
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Virtue Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)