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

Aristotle - Virtue Ethics Essay

Extracts from this document...


ARISTOTLE - VIRTUE ETHICS ESSAY Timothy Pruss QUESTION A: How does one apply virtue ethics to business ethics? When considering Aristotelian ethics and then placing them in the context of modern business practices, it is important to note that the Greek paradigm was very different to that of our own in the modernist age. Homer's Greek myths, imminent wars and conflicts and empires were all important issues in Greek times, society however does not place such emphasis on these in today's society. The concept of strong bonds in a community where individuals must dutifully care for one another is not integral in today's society especially in a more capitalist society upon which the western world works and flourishes. Individuals in a community can live without the obligation of duty to others and without pride if they so wish. In light of this, it is worth noting that business practice and transaction in accordance with Aristotelian ethics would not be very common in the modern age. Aristotelian ethics centred round the concept of improving one' self - to quite literally make oneself more virtuous. To become more virtuous is to improve one's soul - the soul for Aristotle is split into two halves, - the irrational soul which focuses around the human desires and the rational soul which centres on the intellectual virtues. ...read more.


Moreover, Kant's ethical theory rules any sort of emotion when making a moral decision. This is not human nature - few people would claim to act purely through duty, and not through emotion. This is where virtue ethics is more realistic and accessible to the individual than Kantian ethics. With virtue ethics, emotion is very much involved because of the desire and want to improve oneself - emotion does not have to be a hindrance in making a moral decision - (it could potentially), but for many people, a moral decision will require some sort of emotional stigma, and to make it through reason alone is nonsensical. Utilitarianism like the other ethical theories has its strengths and weaknesses as well. The strengths are undoubtedly that the best interests for the majority are accounted for. When making a moral decision, it could be argued that this is instrumental, because as many people as possible are benefiting from the decision. However, the minority are blatantly discriminated against; while the majority are benefiting from the greatest good provided by the individual making the moral decision, the minority will suffer and thus not at all benefit. Moreover, Bentham's hedonic calculus (which gives a quantitative measure of the happiness potentially generated by making a particular moral action) is not at all appropriate for making a moral decision. This consequentialist view is undermined by basing a decision upon mere happiness that may come about as a result. ...read more.


Hence, when solving a moral situation, virtue ethics can be attractive because it appeals to the part of oneself which wants to improve. However, it can be very ambiguous to what course of action would actually develop this whilst Natural Law would seem to be more specific and 'helpful'. Moreover, passages from religious text such as the Bible would be more helpful to an individual. For example, the tale of the suffering of Job in the Old Testament is an inspiring tale for religious believers facing a moral dilemma about belief. It can be seen therefore that virtue ethics could be very helpful when making a moral decision - its dynamic nature especially makes it more appealing. However, to say that it provides a better 'moral guide than any other ethical theory or religious standpoint could' is not at all the case. Virtue ethics is too elitist, and while the concept of flourishing is integral in the theory; few will actually flourish. Moreover, it is promotes a selfish desire to better oneself, (which is not at all bad idea in many cases) but it could well be seen as elitist and exploitative. Bertrand Russell is too extreme when he states that Virtue Ethics is 'morally repugnant' but the basis upon which he makes such a claim can be seen and understood because of dated inequality of the ethical theory. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Ethics 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 GCSE Ethics essays

  1. Explain Virtue ethics. Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone with a ...

    moral decision but does not actually describe what the person should do in the situation. Robert Laden says that Virtue ethics is of little practical help for a person with a moral decision. He says we should do what the virtuous man would do, but how do we predict what this hypercritical moral person would do in our shoes.

  2. TOK Essay: Reason and Emotion

    This has to do with the subjectivity of emotions. Emotions are one of the most unreasonable and subjective human traits. For that reason in the idle world they would not be necessary in justifying moral decisions. A common view that praises reason is the view that the ends justify the means.

  1. Explain Virtue ethics - its strengths and weaknesses?

    are doing good and your wife will be very pleased that she hasn't got that task of cleaning them and therefore she will feel good and you yourself will be morally satisfied and your character traits will improve.

  2. Explain how Macintyre's or Aristotle's account of a life lived in accordance with virtues ...

    Aristotle's answer is 'good reasoning', or 'contemplation'. Aristotle draws our attention to the community, otherwise known as the polis. Consumerism on the other hand, draws our attention to ourselves. We buy something because we want it for ourselves - because we think it will make us happy.

  1. Christian Aid - A Charity Helping Poverty

    In 1949 the income was at a total of �29,000. The name of Christian aid was adopted in 1964. In the fifties Christian aids main work was in refugees. In 1959 there total income was �483,000. In the sixties Christian Aid responded quickly to the growing food shortage in the world.

  2. What is utilitarianism? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the theory?

    He believed that pleasures of the mind were higher than those of the body; however there was a link between the two. One needed to pursue lower pleasures in order to achieve higher pleasures, for example one needs to eat and drink in order to enjoy poetry.

  1. Analysis of Moral Luck Views of Aristotle and Epictetus.

    He also states that everything has a function. Human beings for instance have the function of reasoning. To define function of something we first need to find its genus, and then search for particular uniqueness that differ it from the others in the same genus.

  2. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics

    For, if being virtuous is in our capacity, we have been given the potential to do well - but this moral good cannot be fully realised without it being practised, which Aristotle believes, over a lifetime. A good explanation is given here that men 'will become good builders as a

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