Virtue Ethics

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  • Created by: Alessia
  • Created on: 22-04-13 10:27
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  • Virtue Ethics
    • The principles of Virtue Ethics from Aristotle
      • arete = excellence - it performs its function, e.g. a sharp knive that cuts well
      • harmonic relationship in terms of the organs of the body is contrasted with that of society.
        • Each has their own responsability within society
        • The arete of a slave is to perform his or her duties to the satisfaction of their owner. The arete of a ruler is to guide the state and ensure harmony within society
      • Each person fulfils a function, for a purpose and to an end within society. (Deonotlogial???)
    • The 'agent-centered' nature of virtue ethics
      • Character of the person making the moral decision rather than the act. How is this achieved? Follow guidelines? What actions make us virtuous?
      • Rejects deontological and teleological ethics: they have an apparent lack of love, care and compassion
    • More modern approaches to Virtue Ethics
      • Modern Virtue Ethics looks at character traits that make people good
      • G.E.M Anscombe - what do right and wrong mean without a lawgiver? Eudaimonia, human flourishing is the answer
      • Phillipa Foot - argues that virtue does not operate as a virtue when turned to a bad end. Virtues are good for us and help us to correct harmful human passions and temptations
    • The concept of the Golden Mean
      • Eudaimonia - Greek for happiness, flourishing or a state of contentment
      • 'Golden Mean' - the situation when something works efficiently by avoiding extremes of excess and deficiency
      • BALANCE
      • A water tap exisits to provide water. That is its function.
        • One day you go to the tap and a huge gush of water flows out, drenching your clothes: On this day, the tap is not virtuous
          • The naxt day after you have fixed it, you turn on the tap and there is a shrill sound but no water. The tap is not virtuous as it has not fulfilled itsfunction
            • Finally, you hire a plumber to fix your tap and a good supply of water comes out. It is now a virtuous tap, functioning at its best
    • The importance of practising the virtues and the example of virtuous people
      • Through habitual actions of virtue, we instil values
      • Humans are prone to moral weakneess
      • We learn from the qualities that viruous people possess
      • Virtue ethics is agent-centred and therefore based on character traits.
      • The moral agent, in his or her search for virtue, needs examples of people who have been virtuous/ exemplars or templates
      • Nelson Mandela is seen as a virtuous person: BUT he advocated acts of violence and sabotage - not fulfilling his role in society, not a balance
      • More modern approaches to Virtue Ethics
        • Modern Virtue Ethics looks at character traits that make people good
        • G.E.M Anscombe - what do right and wrong mean without a lawgiver? Eudaimonia, human flourishing is the answer
        • Phillipa Foot - argues that virtue does not operate as a virtue when turned to a bad end. Virtues are good for us and help us to correct harmful human passions and temptations
    • The concept of Eudaimonia
      • Fulfilling your purpose in society = happiness
      • Eudaimonia is the end or telos of all things and human beings
      • not just a personal fulfillemtn but also communal - if everyone fulfils their role in society then society will be arete
      • When one group does not achieve its telos, it is likely that the whole of society will be impaired

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