RS Virtue EThics

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  • Created on: 25-02-12 16:01
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Virtue Ethics
Virtue ethics asks what it is to be human and what virtues are required to flourish.
Whilst utilitarianism and deontology are helpful, they demand a large criteria that
Virtue ethics seems to already have, that seems to reflect Christian ethics best.
Virtue Ethics is interested in defining good people and the qualities they possess that
makes them good. It is mainly concerned with `being' not `doing' as having the right
character comes before the right behaviour.
Eudaimonia: A lifelong pursuit accomplished through practice, reason and
In Nichomachean Ethics he states that human telos is to achieve Eudaimonia ­
happiness due to human flourishing enabling a person's talents to be fulfilled. He
suggested this could be achieved by having self discipline and control over your life.
According to Aristotle, `good acts' performed would lead to a person's greater well
He said that everything had in the world had an end purpose. For example; a knife's
purpose is to cut rather than digging a hole. Natural law puts this into practice ­
doing the right thing is what's natural for people to do; e.g the Roman Catholic views
on abortion ­ it's not natural to stop a pregnancy; it's morally wrong!
Fulfilling a person's telos would lead people to adopt certain values, behaviours and
attitudes so the desire to be successful led people to become `good.' Thus showing
achieving eudaimonia led people to be good. He did however say unattractive,
socially challenged or disabled people were disadvantaged and not everyone would
be able to achieve it.
To conclude, universal telos is problematic as we'd all have to be working towards
the same goal and the world is so diverse, it's difficult to see how this would be
achieved. However some people are already content with their lives, suggesting that
eudaimonia is possible and that as some people don't believe in luck, you don't need
it to be happy.
General Principles:
Virtues are defined and lived in communities thus making friendships
essential as we share a common identity and story.
Aristotle believed that every action is directed towards an aim.
There are superior or subordinate aims.
Getting up in the morning is a subordinate aim to earn a living.
Ultimately everything is subordinate to the supreme good ­ happiness.
However, happiness differs for each person. The supreme happiness of
eudaimonia is one for the community not just the individual.
Aristotle also developed the golden mean. The golden mean is the middle
ground between two extremes. ( vice of excess and vice of deficiency) They

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An example of this would be being rude ­ vice of excess,
honesty ­ middle ground, lying ­ vice of deficiency. The middle ground
provides an achievable goal to aim towards. Advises your emotions to make
you more virtuous thus leading to eudaimonia and living in harmony with
Intellectual and moral virtues.
Intellectual virtues virtues of the mind like the ability to understand reason
and judge.
May be taught by teachers, like logic and maths.
Moral virtues Not innate; acquired through practice and repetition.…read more

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External goods are rewards associated with internal qualities. I.e a footballers wage.
Internal goods are better as they benefit the whole community rather than just the
Summary: Society needs to reassert Aristotle's moral and intellectual virtues in
society. We value different qualities of character, practices and physical things, and
that by understanding historical and social context, we can understand ethical issues
arise.…read more


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