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Virtue Ethics

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Explain Virtue Ethics Unlike most ethical theories, virtue ethics cannot simply be classified as either deontological or teleological. This is because they are not primarily interested in duty or results. Virtue ethics however, deals with character. This ethical theory dates back to Aristotle, and there are even sources in ancient China. When we think of virtuosity, we think of virtuous acts, such as generosity or honesty. However it is a little more than that because it concerns other actions such as interest, reactions and wants. These feelings are all in the mind and therefore there must be a mindset to being virtuous. This mindset is part of what makes duty and consequence irrelevant. If we take the example of an honest person, they would not tell the truth because if they don't someone could get hurt. They tell the truth because not telling the truth would be a lie. As Aristotle believed that character was the most important thing, he also understood this mindset, so he came up with virtue and vice. ...read more.


A child however can obtain arete, which a virtues, by experience. Virtue ethics also makes mention of a concept called eudemonia, which is translated as happiness. This is not the happiness that you get from going on a rollercoaster or from getting a new pair of trainers. This is a more true happiness that is one worth looking for. All virtues point toward this sort of happiness. In fact eudemonia is contingent on virtues and a life devoted to anything but this is a wasted one. Aristotle also believed in different aims. Every action has some sort of aim or objective for instance, the aim taking an exam is to pass it and to show that you know everything in the topic. He developed this idea by saying that there are two types of aim, superior and subordinate. In the same analogy, the superior aim is passing the exam whereas making sure you know everything is subordinate. Aristotle is trying to show that everything is subordinate to the aim of being virtuous in order to achieve the supreme good. ...read more.


For Instance, what must one do about euthanasia or abortion? Due to its character based teachings, it goes beyond just following rules or looking at results. It encompasses both by saying that a good person naturally knows what to do. Focussing on what it is to be human is a strong point. On the other hand, because there are no strict guidelines, it is hard to decide what true virtues really are. There is a catch-22 situation in the theory that is a big let down. In order to know what virtues actually are there must be some sort of criteria or guideline, to test actions by. If that is the case, then virtues are no more than rules or moral objectives. How is it therefore any different to deontological theories? I think that assessing the character is a very important part of moral life, but in many moral dilemmas, there is no strong position held in virtue ethics. Is it virtuous to kill a woman because she is in pain or to let her live because murder is wrong? Due to such reasoning I do not think that virtue theory is a useful way of making moral decisions. ...read more.

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