• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the key features of Virtue Ethics

Extracts from this document...


Transfer-Encoding: chunked Examine the key features of Virtue Ethics (18) Evaluate the extent to which the selected theory can withstand criticism (12) Virtue Ethics is an ethical method that rejects the deontological ethics of Kant, the consequentialism of Utilitarianism and religious ethics as some ethicists were worried by an apparent lack of love, care and compassion in both of these moralities. ‘Virtue’ comes from the Greek word, arête, which means excellence, and centers on the character of the person making the moral decision rather than the action itself. Instead of focusing on the act, like deontology, it is agent-centered. ‘We are not concerned to know what goodness is but how to become good people, since otherwise our enquiry would be useless.’ Those such as Aristotle suggest that the ‘ethics of dilemma’ approach to morality forgets an essential part of ethics. A key feature of Virtue Ethics is eudaemonia, which Aristotle argued should be the superior aim of human life. Eudaemonia is achieved when we become virtuous and Aristotle argued that this is a process that we grow towards by practicing virtues. However, Aristotle noted that ‘happiness’ could be subjective, consequently leading him to define three types of pleasure. The three types of pleasure are, pleasure seekers, seekers of honour and those who love contemplation. ...read more.


Virtue Ethics was revised in the late 20th century by some leading ethicists, such as Elizabeth Anscombe, Alasdair Macintyre and Rosalind Hursthouse. Alasdair Macintyre was inspired by those such as Anscombe and tried to produce a version of the system after considering the history of Virtue Ethics, which can work in the modern age. Macintyre observed that ancient societies developed a series of virtues agreed by their inhabitants and the high point of this was the Athenian Virtues of Aristotle. The four versions of the Athenian virtues were Sophist, Platonic, Tragedian and Aristotelian. However, following the Enlightenment such virtues became displaced and rational philosophers ignored individual practice. A moral vacuum occurred where we were left with three archetypal characters, the bureaucratic manager, the rich aesthete, and the therapist. Macintyre argued that having a set of agreed virtues for our society could help to give life purpose and meaning. He suggested seven virtues, which are courage, temperance, wisdom, industriousness, hope and patience. Macintyre also used the idea of internal and external. An internal good is specific to the activity itself, for example, giving money to charity results in helping others and developing a sense of satisfaction. An external good is a good that is not specific to the act. For example, when giving to charity, your example may inspire others to do the same. ...read more.


But, virtue ethics stresses the importance of character ? someone who helps the poor out of compassion is morally superior to someone who helps out of moral duty. To Aristotle, personal and social flourishing is the final rational goal, and reason tames and moralizes the desires and appetites of the irrational part of our soul. Modern philosophers have placed too much emphasis on action and reason without emphasising socially agreed virtues. Robert Solomon, a modern virtue ethicist stated that, ?the very idea that the good person is one who acts according to the right principles?makes my blood run cold.? As one of the benefits of virtue ethics is that it emphasises the importance of the person who is the object of most moral discourse. To conclude, virtue ethics can withstand criticism to a large extent. While many may question the absence of systematized instructions, virtue ethics allows the agent to control their own morality, thus allowing them to grow as an individual. Aristotle connected emotions closely with judgment and belief, and held that they can be cultivated through moral education to be important components of a virtuous character. By placing emotions on a higher pedestal, emotions become intelligent parts of the moral personality, which can be cultivated through a process of moral education and produce moral agents who can experience emotions like fear and anger appropriately. Taking emotions out of an ethical theory reduces an individual to robotic qualities that are unrealistic and impracticable. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. Examine the key features of utilitarianism and its strengths and weaknesses of utilitarianism

    Utilitarianism promotes democracy, well thought through decisions that would then link to morality and happiness for the greater good.

  2. Examine the key features of situation ethics, and the main criticisms of it, and ...

    Robinson argued that a situationalist view should be applied to divorce law. Questioning the conservative view that marriage created a supernatural, unbreakable bond between two people, he argues that the metaphysical bond that binds two people in marriage can be broken through divorce depending on the situation surrounding it.

  1. Utilitarianism VS Kantian Deontological Ethics

    even if they do not result in bad acts. Once this is recognised, it can be argued that utilitarianism becomes a much more complex and rich moral theory, and may align much more closely with our moral intuitions. Intentions are addressed much more seriously in deontological ethics, reflected in Kant's opinion that "the aim of life is not to achieve happiness, but to deserve it".

  2. What are the Main Features of Utilitarianism as an Ethical Theory?

    The person who follows rules can find no justification in doing so other than a utilitarian one. This then poses the question why not be a utilitarian in the beginning.

  1. A) Clarify the key features of a deontological theory of ethics

    In the above example if you wish to lie you must then be willing for everybody in the world to then be free to lie to you and to others. As creatures with reason we can see the flaw in this plan and as such would agree that it would be best to follow ones duty not to lie.

  2. The key difference between someone using counselling skills and a qualified and trained counsellor ...

    she is sleeping with her boyfriend, they are both thirteen; the dilemma being that both students are under the Age of Consent. The key dilemma in all these situations is when you break confidentiality in order to maintain organisational and legal responsibilities.

  1. To what extent do modern virtue ethics address the weaknesses of Aristotles teachings virtue? ...

    For example a way that someone might exercise ?frugality? and ?humility? would be to feed the poor in lesser economically developed countries- however during shipping some of the food might go off which against the virtue of ?frugality? as part of it is that we shouldn?t waste anything, but at

  2. Medical Ethics And Organ Transplants

    big impact on society for the good but is old A case study to show the importance of Quality of life in regards to organ donation is that of Elaine Stacy. Elaine died in 2010 after a car accident originally she was placed on life support but her family took her off.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work