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Explain the theory of virtue ethics.

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a) Explain the theory of virtue ethics (33) According to virtue ethics, the heart of morality is not found in actions, or in duties, but in the person performing the actions, the 'agent'. In other words, morality should concentrate on the person, and not necessarily on the choices they make in their moral behaviour. Ethical questions, therefore, should not be about whether one or another choice is morally right, but whether the person himself or herself is a good person. The personal character of the agent is what matters; morality is involved with developing one's own virtues in order to become the right kind of person. Virtue ethics then, does not ask: "What is the right thing to do?" but " What sort of person should I aim to become?". Aristotle's main work about morality is called the Nicomachean Ethics. In this book, he started out from the assumption that what everyone wants most is a full and happy life this all-round well-being is known as Eudaimonia. ...read more.


He believed that by making an effort to live a virtuous life, people would develop the habits of virtue, and virtue would then become part of the character rather than an effort. He also believed that the best way of learning about the virtues was to follow the example of the 'virtuous man'- this could be an 'ideal type' following the example of how we imagine a virtuous person, for example Jesus Christ. b) "Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone forced with a moral problem" Discuss (17) Virtue ethics states that the best way to live is by taking the Golden mean (the balance between extremes), that way people can achieve Eudaimonia (fulfilment). However, if you were to ask the question "Can virtue ethics guide or help you when you are faced with a moral problem?" is a trickier scenario. Sometimes the 'Golden mean' might not be clear. For example, if a patient had a disease and the doctor said that there were two options; the only cure for them was to cut off ...read more.


So in this type of scenario, what would be the Golden mean? If the golden mean suggests that you should take the balance between the two actions, it doesn't take long to realise that not only are both of them serious actions...but sometimes it is necessary to take serious actions in order to do the right things-my opinion in this case being killing the 100 SS soldiers. My point however is that sometimes you can only achieve what you want by taking extreme actions -which goes against the teachings of Virtue ethics. My conclusion in relation to these scenarios is that in life, there are no rules that one should follow to lead a good life and become fulfilled. Each situation is different and calls for a different action, and although virtue ethics can work nine times out of ten for a situation- there will always be that one situation that calls for an extreme action to be done, that goes against the rules. ...read more.

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