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Virtue ethics is of little use when dealing with practical ethics Discuss.

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Introduction

'Virtue ethics is of little use when dealing with practical ethics' (35 marks) It is often argued that virtue ethics is of little use when dealing with practical ethics. Virtue ethics does not focus on actions being right or wrong, but on how to be a good person. Virtue ethics raises three questions,- "who am I?", "Who I ought to become?" and "How do I get there?". On the other hand Practical ethics describes situations where an action is needed. Firstly virtue ethics goes back to Plato and Aristotle. Plato's moral theory centres on the achievement of man's highest good, which involves the right cultivation of his soul and the harmonious well being of his life (eudaimonia). Plato seemed to consider that certain virtues such as temperance, courage, prudence and justice (cardinal Virtues) are in balance a person's actions will be good. It motivates people to want to be good. It shows the importance of education in showing that good actions are their own rewards. When these virtues are in balance a persons actions will be good and therefore would disagree that virtue ethics is of little use. Aristotle's ethical theory is known as virtue ethics because at the centre of his description of the good, which are the virtues which shape human character and ultimately human behaviour. ...read more.

Middle

Also according to the principle of autonomy it neglects the community aspect of morality. Also Anscombe might argue that Virtue ethics avoids formulas, like utilitarianism. Philippa Foot attempted to modernise Aristotle's virtue ethics and keeping it to the Aristotelian understanding of character and virtue. She recognised the importance of the persons own reasoning the importance of the persons own reasoning in the practice of virtue. Foot argues that a virtue does not operate as a virtue when turned to a bad end. Virtue ethics does not pretend to be able to tell us what a good person would do in every possible situation but encourages us to be more like such a person so that we will not need an ethical theory to make our decisions. It stresses the importance of character- eg someone who helps the poor out of compassion does seem to be morally superior to someone who does it out of duty. Virtues are good for us and also help us to correct harmful human passions and temptations. An example is, this guy whose neighbour is a footballer, and is nice to him for football tickets. She felt that virtue ethics is useful but needs to be modernised. Alasdair MacIntyre claims in his book "after virtue" that ethical theories have simply resulted in ethical disagreements. He says that people do no think there are any moral truths and people's attitudes are based on emotivism. ...read more.

Conclusion

Slote's discussion of virtue ethics is his explanation of the difference between agent-focused and agent- based theories. Agent focused theories understand the moral life in terms of what it is to be a virtuous person, where virtues are inner dispositions. Agent theories evaluate actions according to the inner life and motive of the people who do such actions. He says that there are many traits we find admirable such as kindness and compassion, and we can identify these by looking at people we admire. Feminism virtue ethics developed by Annette Baier. The female virtues are: care, compassion, interdependence, community, cases. They claim that men often think morally in terms of justice and autonomy, which could be seen as 'masculine' traits, whereas women think morally in terms of caring, nurturing and self-sacrifice. Baier advocates a view of ethics that takes account of our natural biases and the importance of trust for people in lives. Carol Gilligan supported this view and said ethics is currently not about caring but should be and women are concerned with care. In conclusion I believe Virtue ethics depends on some final end which gives shape to our live and there may not be one and being virtuous may not affect it anyway. We need guidelines as well as virtue ethics both together. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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