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Ethical theories Virtue Ethics
Virtue Ethics n. A category of ethical theories which see actions as right or wrong depending on whether or not they are conductive to or flow from a good character. They are sometimes referred to as hero ethics
Virtue ethics works by asking: “what would the hero do in this situation? ” Or, if contemplating an action “would the hero do this or avoid it?
So… We should act in a way that is conductive to a good character, an ideal person and We should avoid the things that are counter productive to the formation of good character.
Christianity is an example of religious virtue ethics. According to this view Jesus is the ideal and followers ought to be more Jesus-like.
Virtue ethics do not set a minimal goal, but rather they set an ideal goal. It is not, “Do not break the rule” But rather “Strive for excellence!”
Virtue Ethics is very often used in professional ethics : (How would an ideal doctor/lawyer behave? )
It is also used to evaluate entire societies. “ the us is the only modern western society to still employ the death sentence. ” i. e. no civilised (virtuous) nation employs the death penalty. n “ Any compassionate , enlightened (virtuous) society would guarantee minimal healthcare to its citizens n
Problems 1. Where do these standards come from? 2. What justifies them? 2. Is there one set of standards for all human beings? 3. It only provides vague guidance as to specific behaviour E. g. driving – be courteous, kind … rather than “drive on the left. ”
The main Principles of Virtue Ethics Based on the Philosophy of Aristotle and revived by Mac. Intyre and Anscombe • Based on Character not actions • Greek concept – arête - virtue excellence • Virtue (Aristotle) an inner state arising from harmony, health, beauty and strength of character. • Actions are good when they enhance the inner state. • three characteristics have to be in harmony: wisdom, coverage/self-control
• “what sort of person ought I be” rather than “what should I do? ” • Balanced personality leads to good actions • Aristotle's division of moral and intellectual virtues Moral Intellectual justice courage friendliness Practical wisdom intelligence patience Technical and scientific skills
The two virtues combine to allow a person to live a happy satisfying life • • Eudaimonia ; (a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous) the final goal of Human activity.