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Explain Aristotles Virtue Ethics and how this has been developed by later thinkers

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Introduction

'Explain Aristotle's Virtue Ethics and how this has been developed by later thinkers. (30 marks)' Virtue ethics concentrates on human character and asks how a person can be a better person. This is tackled by defining good persons and the qualities that make them good. Virtue theory believes that right character becomes before right behaviour, be pay less attention to actions and consequences, and concentrate with the character of the moral agent in any given situation. Although Virtue theory does not ignore actions and consequences - it still asks the question 'What is it right or obligatory to do?' - the question of focus is 'How should we be?', as through this theory it is believed that only by becoming better people that a person will do the right thing. Aristotle's view of virtue ethics is approached in his work Nicomachean Ethics, in which he argues that when an individual undertakes some form of action it is for an end purpose, and that the ultimate end of all ends is the chief good, the greatest good. ...read more.

Middle

It is also believed that upon becoming virtuous, other persons will be more inclined to become so too, as it is insinuated that by seeing virtues persons then do virtuous things, thus creating more 'rightness'. MacIntyre is similar in one sense to Aristotle and the whole concept of Virtue theory that moral wisdom is of a large significance but differs in a sense as this gentleman focuses on not only good (virtuous) persons doing 'right' but also comments on how this also benefits society as a whole (Aristotle does touch upon this but implicitly; he is more focuses on individual persons) - something which he believes is 'morally in decline due to ethics losing itself'. Virtuous persons turn into virtuous societies, something very important for the future prosper of mankind. For example, in previous societies (whereby much less 'wrongness' was undertaken) courage was a measure of the quality of an individual and is essential to sustain a household and community; Courageous persons can be relied on and so are important in relationship, be it employee-employer or otherwise; Fidelity ensures persons are supportive and helpful. ...read more.

Conclusion

Foot illustrates that persons who are tempted to steal when the opportunity presents itself (and do not) is still virtuous, but not as virtuous and as developed as persons whom have the opportunity (and do not steal) where the temptation and need is much stronger, for example persons whom have a starving family. Of course this example brings up entirely different ethics within itself, but to Foot, whilst stealing would make them 'happy' it does nothing for their human development. In conclusion, we can see that Virtue theory is much different to other areas of ethics; it does not focus on defining principles by which we should act (good persons are defined and what makes them good); it does not believe that good behaviour comes before right character (it is the opposite); it does not focus upon actions and (most loving) consequences (what is important is the character of moral persons). The theory's stance is upon human development which was later adapted to include society's development and more specific virtues. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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