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Explain how Aristotle and Alasdair Macintyre applied Virtue Theory to moral decision making?

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Introduction

Explain how Aristotle and Alasdair Macintyre applied Virtue Theory to moral decision making? Virtues are the essence of the human spirit and the content of our character. Virtue theory enhances this. Virtue theory focuses on the importance of the person, and the development of that person's character, rather than the actions of the individual and the consequences of his or her actions. Becoming virtuous requires practice. With enough practice the individual will begin to cultivate the virtues simply through habit, and as such become virtuous, which then benefits society. Aristotle and Macintyre both apply virtue theory to moral decision making. Both philosophers have different views of virtue ethics; however their arguments are both formed around the basic concepts of virtue theory. Virtue theory is linked to moral decision making by Aristotle and Macintyre. Virtues are human qualities and express what type of character we have, and moral decision making can affect the character that we are developing, whether we do the right or wrong thing is various situations. Aristotle's views on virtue theory are all led back to the highest good; Eudaimonia. To understand its role in virtue ethics we look to Aristotle's function argument. Aristotle recognizes that actions are not pointless because they have an aim. Every action aims at some good. Furthermore, some things are done for their own sake and some for the sake of others. Aristotle then observes that when an object has a function the good of the object is when it performs its function well. For example, the knife has a function, to cut, and it performs its function well when it cuts well. ...read more.

Middle

He uses Homeric, Athenian and Medieval virtues to express and demonstrates ethical reasoning. He concludes that these differences are attributable to different practices that generate different conceptions of the virtues. Each account of virtue requires a prior account of social and moral features in order to be understood. Thus, for example, in order to understand Homeric virtue you need to look at its social role in Greek society. The ways in which we act will influence the way other act, mainly our friends. In return the way we act allows others to judge our characters. Similarly to Aristotle, Macintyre believes the virtues which make up our character, should be at the midpoint between vice and deficiency. These points will affect the moral decisions made by an individual, as it allows them to understand that reason is required, and situations must be understood fully before coming to consequential rash decisions.. This view equally maintained by Aristotle. Macintyre used an analogy about series of natural disasters that turn the public against the natural sciences. Much information about the sciences is lost and science only survives by children learning small pieces of science. As such Macintyre says that this is like the state of morality. Virtues, then, are exercised within practices that are coherent. The virtues enable us to achieve these goods. There is an end (or telos) that transcends all practices and it constitutes the good of a whole human life. That end is the virtue of integrity or constancy. These two writers have both, in their own way, argued for a radical change in the way we think about morality and they way make moral decisions. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, in another country abortion may be banned due to the religion that they follow. The dilemma comes around because it is hard to say which country has the correct morals, and is abortion right or wrong? A major weakness of the virtue theory is that because it is not rule based, it is in many people's opinions too flexible. There is no real clear correct solution when it comes to making decisions and this makes it hard when it comes to decision making, because for specific moral dilemmas there is not an absolute right action. Therefore the norms of society can become the desires of the society. Secondly, you can't know if an individual is truly virtuous or not. For example, if an elderly person collapsed on the pavement, and an individual ran out to help the elderly person get back up, how do you know what that individuals motive was when helping the elderly person. It may have truly been to help, as that individual may be truly virtuous. However, for certain people their motive would be so that they look good, and appear virtuous, and doing acts to appear virtuous defines virtue ethics. In conclusion virtue theory is useful in some instances with decision making, however not useful in other instances. It is a very unclear theory which needs clear understanding before being used to make decisions. Despite being different to other ethical theories, and focusing solely on the character, there is no way to resolve conflicts within virtue theory, and there is no way to determine right actions. Therefore in terms of decision making is has limited utility. ...read more.

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