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Explain the theory of virtue ethics.

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Introduction

A) Explain the theory of virtue ethics. Virtue ethics was previously discussed and examined by the early philosophers: Plato and in particular Aristotle. Although the theory is old fashioned, its popularity has resurfaced in recent times giving its ideas a modern spin. According to the theory of virtue ethics, a person's morality is judged not on their actions but on their character and behaviour. In other words, the person (the agent) should not ask what they should do, but should look at the bigger picture and ask what kind of person they should become. This is why virtue ethics contrasts greatly with many other forms of ethics as they consider the right course of action. Aristotle believed that the main goal of every person's life is to reach 'eudaimonia' an overall sense of happiness, fulfilment and well-being. He saw this as the highest form of good as every person for no ulterior motive, would desire it for its own sake. He saw three different forms of happiness: happiness as a life of enjoyment, happiness as a free member of society and happiness a philosopher. ...read more.

Middle

For example, a foolhardy person would be at one end of the scale and someone who is cowardly would be at the other, these two types of people could cause problems but the virtous mean of these two extremes is courage which is a highly valued quality. The golden mean could therefor be used as a good guideline for someone to follow, so to reach eudaimonia or for moral sitautions. Aristotle saw a great difference between a moral virtue and an intellectual virtue. Intellectual virtues, like being talented in foreign languages or being a skilled painter, are generally given to a person through their genetic make up and teaching, where as moral virtues are learnt through the experience of actually living them. In other words Aristotle saw it as something one develops in them self, and not something that a person can possess when born. B) "Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a moral problem." Discuss. The theory of virtue ethics seems to have many flaws and in itself is unhelpful when faced with a moral decision but when combined with the utilitarianism theory and natural law it proves to be very useful. ...read more.

Conclusion

In retaliation to this argument it can be said that in becoming a more virtuous person one will be able to make better moral decisions naturally as the good qualities obtained such as rationality and fairness will help a person to do so. It is also unrealistic to think that a person's chosen role model will have faced every problem that they have. In this situation one should think what their role model would have done if he or she had been faced with the same dilemma. When considered as a whole the theory of virtue ethics does not give all the answers. However, parts of the theory do serve as a good guide line to follow in becoming more a more virtuous person like in most cases avoiding extreme characteristics and basing your actions on someone you see as virtuous. Therefore in combining the more useful parts of virtue ethics with other ethical systems we can become better people and make the correct moral decisions. R.KING 6A1 ...read more.

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