• 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...

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.

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. Aristotle - Virtue Ethics Essay

    These theories each provide different paths to making the appropriate moral decision for the individual involved, and equally, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Whilst some would consider virtue ethics to be a superior ethical theory - one which should be used as a guide for making moral decisions,

  1. 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."

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

    Aristotle says that these people will enjoy a life of gratification. The best way to achieve a happy life, is to do good for the society, as in everyday life we are involved in groups. These groups can be family, or friends, regardless the society from which people live, is more important than the individual.

  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. 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.

  1. Virtue Ethics

    'Virtue Ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a moral problem'. Discuss On the surface, it appears that virtue ethics is a plausible theory; however, when analysed this is not the case. Virtue ethics only concentrates on what a person should be and what is that makes a person good, rather than determining what is good.

  2. Outline the main features of Jeremy Bentham's guide to making moral decisions.

    Strong rule utilitarians hold that any given rule is shown to produce good and should be followed. Weak rule utilitarianism argues that rules should be accepted and appreciated, but they do not have to be followed if they will not produce a good outcome.

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