Virtue Ethics - A2 Edexcel Textbook

Virtue Ethics - A2 Edexcel Textbook

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Virtue Ethics
ARISTOTLE
All things and human beings have a purpose/function ­ a telos
It's final cause is to fulfill its goal
Human = flourishing and developing virtuous characteristics
What kind of person people are ­ not what they do ­ but practicing kindness will make you kind
in the end
Nature of humanity
Aristotle
Like animals ­ need food and air
But have rational thought
Purpose of man rational thought and is to find intellectual virtue
Also he has to be practical and fulfill moral virtues too
Courage, temperance, wittiness, modesty
These lead to good life
Live by these = maximize chance of eudaimonia
These people will act in the right way because it's the right way not because they want to or
because they ought to
Right way = Golden Mean (Aristotle) ­ cowardice ­ foolhardiness = courage
You cultivate the golden mean ­ not born with it
Good person learns from role model
Practice the virtuous ways until it becomes habit and a solid characteristic
When reached this ­ becomes virtuous even in sleep ­ all the time
Links with our understanding of a truly good person
`prudence' - must not just desire to do good but know when and how to do it ­ practice
20th century revival
Anscombe ­ should abandon ethical codes relying on moral absolutes ­ go back to just human
flourishing
Taylor ­ rejects ethics based on divine commands ­ Christianity teachings of equality does not
encourage people to strive to better themselves
Foot ­ virtues cannot guarantee happiness but can help you achieve it
MacIntyre ­ moral dilemmas are confused more through naturalistic theories as time-consuming
­ virtue ethics is easier and more applicable to human situations
APPEAL
Both religious and secular can live by it
Despite Taylor ­ Jesus can be seen as virtuous role model
Simple system ­ universal well being and role models mean not an unrealistic goal
Attempts to link theoretical and practical approaches to ethics
Moral behavior practice helps maintain a good life
WEAKNESSES
Virtues have different values in different cultures ­ physical courage more important to some
than intellect ­ even most virtuous role model to one person may show little virtues appreciated
by another

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Susan Wolf ­ not everyone wants to cultivate the virtues or maintains that they are intrinsically
good
Aristotle's Golden Mean ­ not easy to apply to all virtues ­ what about compassion? Loyalty?
When do they become a vice
Aristotle gave no guidance when virtues conflict
Can be seen as selfish ­ more important to develop ourselves rather than the effect our actions
have on another
Aristotle's virtues are masculine ­ courage, honour ­ what about feminine empathy? But his
society did view it that…read more

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