Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan University of Montana

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Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 1

Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 1

Introduction Common feature of the two theories we have seen: Morality = abstract and

Introduction Common feature of the two theories we have seen: Morality = abstract and general rules Virtue Ethics: There is no absolute rule nor general recipe: we face particular situations for which we need to make the right particular decisions. - Ethics must be based on concrete experience - Ethics is like the art of construction, not the science of geometry: Any decision is objective, but flexible and context-dependent Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 2

Aristotle The philosopher (4 th century BCE) Socrates, Plato, Aristotle The lyceum Research in

Aristotle The philosopher (4 th century BCE) Socrates, Plato, Aristotle The lyceum Research in all domains Empiricist The importance of ethics Nichomachean Ethics First separated, systematic treatment Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 3

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they?

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they? Virtues: how to acquire them? Conclusion on Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 4

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they?

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they? Virtues: how to acquire them? Conclusion on Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 5

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Who needs Ethics? - Experiences

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Who needs Ethics? - Experiences - The need for a sound and concrete plan to lead a good life How to do Ethics? - No general recipe - Follow role models Virtue Ethics: Virtue Ethics is the view that what is right to do is to do whatever a man of virtue would do What is it to be a man of virtue? Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 6

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Practical Wisdom: The man of

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Practical Wisdom: The man of virtue lives according to reason Argument: Living according to reason is the only way to flourish as a human being Life shared with plants Sentience and mobility shared with animals Reason: humans only Practical Wisdom: The man of virtue is committed to action Note: the hermit in the mountain is not a man of virtue Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 7

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Practical Wisdom “Just as at

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Practical Wisdom “Just as at the Olympic Games it is not the best-looking or the strongest men present that are crowned with wreaths, but the competitors (because it is from them that the winners come), so it is those who act that rightly win the honors and rewards in life” Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 8

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Virtue and Pleasure The man

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Virtue and Pleasure The man of virtue enjoys being virtuous: Thinks? Acts? Feels? Vicious Wrong way Incontinent Right way Wrong way Continent Right way Wrong way Virtuous Right way Feelings and emotions taken into account Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 9

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Morality and Pleasure “Indeed, we

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Morality and Pleasure “Indeed, we may go further and assert that anyone who does not delight in fine actions is not even a good man; for nobody would say that a man is just unless he enjoys acting justly, nor liberal unless he enjoys liberal actions, and similarly in all the other cases. If this is so, then virtuous actions must be pleasurable in themselves. ” Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 10

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Conclusion Ethics: A sound and

The Good life: The Life of a Virtuous Man Conclusion Ethics: A sound and concrete plan for a good life Virtue Ethics: what is right is to do whatever the man of virtue would do The life of the man of virtue: - The man of virtue lives according to reason - The man of virtue is committed to action - The man of virtue enjoys being virtuous Virtue Ethics: a fully human life Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 11

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they?

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they? Virtues: how to acquire them? Conclusion on Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 12

Virtues: What are they? A List of Virtues A virtue for each sphere of

Virtues: What are they? A List of Virtues A virtue for each sphere of “grounding experience” which together define the fully human life Grounding Experience Virtue Important Damages Courage Body Moderation Limited Resources Justice Personal Property Generosity Self-appreciation Greatness of Soul Mild damages Mildness of temper Speech Truthfulness Social association Grace, Friendliness Others’ fortune Proper Judgment Conduct Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Practical wisdom Montana 13

Virtues: What are they? The Appropriate Emotional Response Virtues: Virtues are tendencies to display

Virtues: What are they? The Appropriate Emotional Response Virtues: Virtues are tendencies to display the emotional response which is appropriate to the situation at hand. Example: Courage - Grounding experience: important damages – death - Emotion: Fear – an important part of our lives - Courage: the appropriate amount of fear What is the appropriate response? Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 14

Virtues: What are they? The Doctrine of the Mean Virtues as a mean between

Virtues: What are they? The Doctrine of the Mean Virtues as a mean between two excesses Grounding Experience Deficiency Virtue Excess Important Damages Cowardice Courage Rashness Personal Property Stinginess Generosity Wastefulness Body Intemperance Moderation Ascetism Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 15

Virtues: What are they? Disclaimers No General Rule: What counts as the appropriate response

Virtues: What are they? Disclaimers No General Rule: What counts as the appropriate response depends on the particular circumstances – but is still objective! Strong emotions are not always bad: The appropriate emotional response can be strong – but is still a mean! Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 16

Virtues: What are they? Conclusion Virtues: - One virtue for each sphere of grounding

Virtues: What are they? Conclusion Virtues: - One virtue for each sphere of grounding experiences - Virtues are tendencies to display the emotional response which is appropriate to the situation at hand. - The right kind of emotional response is a mean between two excesses Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 17

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they?

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they? Virtues: how to acquire them? Conclusion on Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 18

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human Nature Human’s nature: good or bad? -

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human Nature Human’s nature: good or bad? - Men are not naturally good - Men are not naturally bad The true nature of men is to be malleable – i. e to have a capacity for change Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 19

Virtues : How are they acquired? Habituation Virtues and Vices are acquired by habituation:

Virtues : How are they acquired? Habituation Virtues and Vices are acquired by habituation: - We learn how to be virtuous in practicing virtue - Virtues become second natures - Analogy: learning a language or how to play an instrument - Example: Food Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 20

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human nature and habituation “In a word then,

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human nature and habituation “In a word then, like activities produce like dispositions. Hence we must give our activities a certain quality, because it is their characteristics that determine the resulting dispositions. So it is a matter of no little importance what sorts of habits we form from the earliest age – it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world. . . ” It goes both ways ! Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 21

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human nature and habituation How do we acquire

Virtues : How are they acquired? Human nature and habituation How do we acquire virtues? - Human nature is to be malleable - Virtues – and vices! – are acquired by habituation We become virtuous in acting like virtuous people We ARE truly virtuous when the virtue has become a second nature Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 22

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they?

Outline The good life: the life of a virtuous man Virtues: what are they? Virtues: how to acquire them? Conclusion on Virtue Ethics Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 23

Virtue Ethics Method: No general rule – flexibility without giving up on objectivity Ethics:

Virtue Ethics Method: No general rule – flexibility without giving up on objectivity Ethics: a sound and concrete plan to lead a good life Virtue Ethics: what is right is to do whatever the man of virtue would do The life of the man of virtue: The man of virtue lives according to reason, is committed to action, and enjoys being virtuous Virtues are tendencies to display the emotional response which is appropriate to the situation at hand -- a mean between two excesses – and are acquired by habituation Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 24

Virtue Ethics What to take from it? Advantages: - A fuller notion of humanity

Virtue Ethics What to take from it? Advantages: - A fuller notion of humanity – including emotions and feelings - A more concrete and practical take on morality – dependence on context Problems: - Incompleteness? does not give answers – compare with utilitarianism - No absolute rule – compare with duty theory Soazig Le Bihan -- University of Montana 25