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

Virtue ethics comes from the time of Aristotle and Plato but has only become popular again fairly recently. Virtue comes from the word 'arete' meaning excellence or virtue.

Extracts from this document...


1. Explain the theory of virtue ethics. 2. Virtue ethics is of little practical use to someone faced with a moral problem. Discuss. 1. Virtue ethics comes from the time of Aristotle and Plato but has only become popular again fairly recently. Virtue comes from the word 'arete' meaning excellence or virtue. Virtue ethics looks at a person as a whole and not just in their actions, or their choices of moral behaviour. Ethical questions should therefore not be about whether one choice or another is morally right, but whether the person making the decision is a good person. This is what matters because the person making the decisions is aiming to become a better person by developing their own virtues. Virtue ethics therefore asks the question 'what type of person should I aim to become?' rather than 'what is the morally right thing to do?' It concentrates on being rather than doing so contrasts with other forms of ethics, which look at what, would be the right course of action to take. Virtue ethics should not be considered completely different from other types of ethics. Kant and Bentham both wrote about what it is to be virtuous and tried to define virtues. ...read more.


In this way, future generations can be taught goodness from those that have gone before. It is argued that we can learn more about being virtuous by following and watching someone virtuous than being taught a set of rules to follow. For example, someone might have been told 'be kind to others' but they will no know how to unless they have been shown. Aristotle defines two types of virtues, intellectual and moral. We can be taught intellectual behaviour such as foreign languages but we learn moral virtues by living them. Virtue is something we acquire rather than being born with it according to Aristotle. This can be likened to a craftsman who learns by watching others and practising himself. Also the right actions have to be done with the right motives. The revival of virtue ethics was mainly due to the release of Elizabeth Anscombe's article 'Modern Moral Philosophy'. It claimed that the concept of moral rules and moral obligation is flawed. She criticised utilitarianism and Kant, which both set out principles for people to follow rather than looking at a person's character. She argued that the idea that we have a moral obligation to someone doesn't make sense unless the whole community believe in God. ...read more.


For Taylor, virtue ethics is a long overdue return to a system which has far more to offer the individual than Christianity. There are many problems with virtue ethics. Firstly for some virtues there are no midpoints; like for promise keeping or compassion. And for others it is hard to define where the midpoint is. Virtues also differ from society to society so it is hard to define what is virtuous in different places, jobs etc. Also, sometimes virtue ethics is of little use to someone who is in a moral dilemma. Some people say that morals cannot be separated altogether from rules so without rules we would not know whether a characteristic was to be judged as a virtue. Some people might say that virtue ethics is a selfish way of life; it concentrates on putting yourself first and choosing an action that is most beneficial to you. Also, a virtuous person cannot just be virtuous; they have to do the right thing at the right time, like saving a child from a fire. This act however can be done by an un-virtuous person and similarly, a virtuous person might not do anything. So in conclusion, virtue ethics looks at a person's character rather than a persons actions. If you are a moral person you are likely to do virtuous acts. ...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 ...

    The second is happiness as a free member of society, which is the contentment of being accepted into your society. The last of which is happiness as a life of enjoyment and pleasure this is simply the freedom of being you.

  2. Aristotle - Virtue Ethics Essay

    This would offend Aristotle's ethics because of the exploitation of humans. Aristotle's moral virtue is based upon the idea of a state of character that allows us to operate as an effective and good human being. Hence, exploitation is not choosing the good and is not choosing well and furthermore, is not being virtuous.

  1. Assess The Strengths / Weaknesses Of Virtue Ethics

    notion of a flourishing life--only it turns out that the flourishing life assumes a set of values, a set of standards already! So, appealing to the flourishing life only returns us to the original question: which moral standards should we adopt?

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

    Aristotle maintains that we do not have an innate knowledge of the virtues, and as such we are not born as virtuous beings. Therefore we need to practice in order to improve. Similarly this is the case for sports and many other areas in life.

  1. Explain Virtue ethics - its strengths and weaknesses?

    The weaknesses of virtue ethics are as follows; contrary to what many would believe good about virtue ethics, the reality isn't quite so neat and simple. Although many common moral decisions can be easily solved by a person of the "right" moral character, the fact of the matter is that

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

    Here, ethical understanding can be attained by practising virtuous actions, to make these actions easier and more pleasant to choose. Plato however, would see ethics simply as acquired through knowledge rather than practise. Plato's theory of the forms sited the 'Good' as the 'greatest object of study,' and the only

  1. Aristotle's Virtue Ethics

    The main accomplishment in Eudaimonia is gaining a sense of achievement, success and moral excellence; which is an imperative to the hedonistic view of pleasure. Aristotle believes that human beings have a special 'function', the Greek translation being 'ergon'. This function is special in each individual, and is not found

  2. Explain how Meta-Ethics differs from Normative Ethics.

    Emotivism faces the problems, which face non-cognitivism generally. It cannot give a plausible account of moral disagreement (Stevenson's account only works when a decision has to be made about what to do), or of moral argument, or of the need for consistency in moral thinking.

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