Modern Virtue Ethics

Including the works of philosophers

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  • Created on: 29-04-12 13:21
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Elizabeth Anscombe
(19192001)
Believed that theories that were act or consequence based did not provide an adequate foundation for
moral guidelines.
They relied on the idea of punishment and reward, either by divine lawgiver, or by their consequence.
She believed what was required was a return to eudaimonia.
She also believed that other theories were too focussed on autonomous actions, whilst disregarding the
social aspect of morality, which unites communities.
Philippa Foot
(1920)
Attempts to update virtue ethics whilst still maintaining its roots in Aristotle.
Virtues are a way for people to flourish by correcting natural tendencies towards vice.
There is a human inclination to selfinterest, which out to be corrected by becoming more
compassionate and benevolent.
Virtues do not necessarily lead to happiness ­ but do move us towards it.
Virtues are only virtuous as long as they are correctly used to bring a good outcome.
Alasdair MacIntyre
(1929)
Modern ethical morality is lost ­ ethical terminology is meaningless ­ disagreement as to whether
ethics should be teleological or deontological.
Morality should be aimed at developing your telos (end).
Virtues are judged by society.
Return to Aristotle's understanding of virtue by encouraging society to assist in the development of
virtues that are relevant to the modern world.
The ancient virtues are therefore not necessarily the virtues that will assist us in the 21st century.
Richard Taylor
(19192003)
Against religion's influence on morality.
Humans should flourish and achieve eudaimonia, but religious teachings undermine this.
If the meek inherit the earth, then what is the point of striving to be a good person and attempting to
achieve moral excellence ­ after all, all you have to do is lie back and wait for your inheritance?
Christianity emphasises a selfnegating equality and status quo, rather than encouraging people to strive
to become greater and better people.
Rosalind Hursthouse
(1943)
Tackles the criticism that virtue ethics does not provide moral guidance in dilemmas.
It may not explain exactly how a person would or should act, but it does explain how a virtuous person
would think about the moral dilemma.

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Virtues are virtuous because they encourage people to flourish and achieve eudaimonia (Aristotelian
view).
Virtues assist practical reasoning, enabling us to become better and, hence, respond to moral dilemmas
in a virtuous way.
If we use the virtues, our reasoning will enable us to be virtuous people.…read more

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