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

Explain the theory of virtue ethics.

Extracts from this document...


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.


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.


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.

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 ...

    Alistair MacIntyre uses Aristotle's ideas of ethics. He also takes a historical view of ethics. He advocates the absolute relevance of human character over abstract principles. To conclude the virtue theory encompasses all aspects of life rather than particular action. But the theory also relies on people to have the virtues such as thoughtfulness and kindness in order to follow it.

  2. Explain the difference between Meta ethics and Normative ethics.

    The function of an ethical statement is "to guide choices, our own or other peoples, now and in the future."

  1. Compare and contrast Plato and Aristotle on the acquisition of ethical understanding.

    But Plato believes that education is innate to the person and that they have only so much potential to learn things themselves, he believed that philosophers would be the only people who could ever truly 'know' things through the forms.

  2. How Does Virtue Ethics apply to Business Ethics?

    There are, however, problems with virtue ethics. Although it avoids the arduous task of not having a formula to suggest what we ought to do (as with utilitarianism and Kantian ethics) it focuses on the type of people we ought to be.

  1. Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a moralproblem. Discuss.

    Virtue ethics can be acceppted and understood by a wide variety of different people. Although the system is based on ideals, it isn't unrealistic because it looks at the examples set by virtuous people, like for example, Jesus. Therefore the targets are attainable by everyone.

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

    If anything is taken away from us other than our body, it is actually given back not taken away. Also, we only look for our needs. More than that, such as searching for luxury, will not do any good to us.

  1. Virtue Ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a dilemma. Discuss.

    If a person prefers to be told what to do in a situation, then virtue theory is definitely not for them. If a person prefers to search for the right or wrong thing to do, through exploration of the soul, then virtue theory would be a solid base for them to start.

  2. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics

    to train totally different muscles to a long distance runner, as their functions and aims are different, like each person who wants to be virtuous. Secondly, it is not healthy for one to always adopt the mean of their emotions.

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