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Explain Virtue Ethics

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Romi Verstappen (a) Explain Virtue Ethics Virtue ethics is a theory used to make moral decisions. It does not rely on religion, society or culture; it only depends on the individuals themselves. The main philosopher of Virtue Ethics is Aristotle. His theory was originally introduced in ancient Greek times. Aristotle was a great believer in virtues and the meaning of virtue to him meant being able to fulfil one's functions. Virtue ethics is not so much interested in the question 'What should I do?' but rather in the question 'what sort of person should I become?' It has more to do with character and the nature of what it is to be human, than with the rights and wrongs of actions. Instead of concentrating on what is the right thing to do, virtue ethics asks how you can be a better person. Aristotle says that those who do lead a virtuous life are very happy and have sense of well-being. Happiness is the ultimate goal for everyone in life. Aristotle's definition of happiness is, 'happiness is the activity of the soul in accord with perfect virtue'. ...read more.


For example, for the virtue 'modesty', the vice of excess would be bashfulness and the vice of deficiency would be shamelessness. Aristotle mentions 12 virtues that all fall between two vices. Some examples of these virtues are honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence. Such virtues must be refined; we must learn when to use certain virtues and make sure that they do not fall into the vices; in other words we must use them in moderation. For example we must not ever use modesty in excess as we will become bashful, but at the same time we must also not pass into the vice of deficiency-shamelessness. Virtue Ethics is dependent; Aristotle realised that virtues in one country or society may not be the same as virtues in another. As virtues have evolved through society it is possible that good actions may be perceived as bad actions in another society. However the virtues stay the same in every community as well as the ultimate aim which is supreme happiness. Aristotle explains that all actions are done in order to reach an aim or goal. ...read more.


This way people will know what is right and wrong without any disagreements. Joseph Fletcher's Situation Ethics is something which people would like to believe is a good theory and one that would work in practice. This theory allows people to disregard all set rules if 'love' is involved in the situation. However Fletcher does not give a proper definition of 'love' in his theory, therefore when do people know when love is involved and they can disregard all the other rules in the decision making? Everyone has their own view of what love is. Bentham's Utilitarianism theory uses the principle of 'the greatest good for the greatest number'. However this is not a very useful theory for people when making moral decisions as the hedonic calculus which is provided to measure the pain and pleasure of the outcome of the decision, may not provide all the information that is needed. The hedonic calculus is also very impractical for the person to have to measure each and every moral choice every time. It is not possible for us to predict accurately what the outcome of our decisions will be and so unexpected results may occur. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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