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Critically Asses Virtue Theory & Explain the concept of a miracle

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Introduction

Critically Asses Virtue Theory (15 marks) The virtue theory derives from Aristotle who thought that we as human beings should ask the question 'How should I live?' rather than the dominant question at the foundation of deontological ethical theories, 'What should I do?' Aristotle maintained that the ultimate 'telos' (ultimate purpose) for human beings is to develop the characteristics of a virtuous person. These virtues have to be cultivated and the main goal is to require the 'Golden mean'. This is the virtue that lies in-between the vice of deficiency and the vice of excess. For example for the virtue of 'courage' there could be a deficiency of 'cowardice' and an excess of 'rashness'. When we have met all the needs of this theory we are essentially a 'good' person, we can cope with moral dilemmas without a set of rules, by using our own virtuous judgements to determine our actions. There are many strengths attached to the virtue theory, the main appeal is that it steers away from the deontological theory which has absolute moral rules which can cause extreme problems. ...read more.

Middle

Overall the theory does come with problems however does go some way to providing a theory for ethical decision making. One thing it excels in is not condoning any outrageously immoral acts which most deontological theories fail to do. Explain the concept of miracles (20 marks) The general definition of a miracle is an act of God that cannot be explained in any other way. However philosophers have re-defined this standard meaning to help characterise a miraculous event. Thomas Aquinas placed miracles into three categories. The first is most adjacent to the standard definition; events done by God which nature could never re-create for example Joshua 10:13 where 'the sun stopped in mid-heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day'. Aquinas' second category is events performed by God which nature could do, but not in the same way. An example of this would be Matthew 21:19 where Jesus withers a fig tree by words alone. The third category is events done by God which nature could do but God does instead, for example the weather. ...read more.

Conclusion

RF Holland thinks that miracles depend upon perspective, and that the miraculous worth of an event will vary according to who is viewing it (and its consequences). This view of perspectives gives an explanation to miracles; they exist as long as people hold it in their minds that they exist. David Hume is a big critic of miracles. For him a miracle is not simply an extraordinary event but one which breaks the laws of nature, and as he believes we never see the laws of nature being broken it is entirely unreasonable to believe in miracles. He continues to say that because miracles are such improbable events they need strong evidence from witnesses. He claims that witnesses to miracles appear to be unreliable; for example uneducated, impressionable people and we should not trust them. However Swinburne counters this by asking why we think the worst in people and believes it is in their own interest to tell the truth. Another argument against Hume is that although things may seem unalterable they may have just understood them incorrectly for example thinking the world was flat instead of round. ...read more.

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