Virtue Ethics

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  • Created by: Kaylee
  • Created on: 08-06-11 19:02

Virtue Ethics

Virtue Ethics

  • Virtue Ethics is concerned with defining good people and the qualities that make them good.
  • We should be less concerned with with actions and consequences and much more concerned with the character of the moral agent.
  • It deals with both the rightness and wrongness of actions as well as providing guidance to what sort of person we should be, and what behaviors and characters we need to adapt in order to achieve this
  • Its a good way to build a better society as it helps it members to be good people through developing the necessary attributes, then by using laws and punishments

There are two logical arguments presented in Virtue Ethics: 

  • Teleological, which is concerened with the end result or the consequences with our actions, and
  • Deontological, which concentrates on the rules that cant be broken. It focuses on the result of the action itself.
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Aristotle & Eudaimonia

Aristotle

  • Argues that whenever we do something, we do it to gain an end, and that this ultimate of all ends is the greatest good
  • All of our actions are directed towards aims: I get up in the morning to go to work; I go to work because I want to earn a living and have a good career; I want earnings and a career so that I can live life well

Eudaimonia

  • 'Eudaimonia' - a supreme good or happiness which is the fundamental goal of life that everyone should pursue. 
  • In order to achieve this end  we need to develop moral virtues that are qualities of character such as courage, liberality and modesty.
  • Although we can all develop these virtues, only a few will do so. To find these means we need we need to have self control towards others and in different situations
  • People have different ideas of Happiness, some strive to achieve pleasure, some honor and those whom seek contemplation 
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Aristotle & Eudaimonia

Aristotle argues about the different virtues that we need to develop, these four main virtues are: 

Prudence

Able to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time

- Justice

Justice is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, fairness, or equity.

- Fortitude

Strength of mind that enables one to endure adversity with courage

- Temperance

The act of self restraint or to have self control over ones actions.

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Continued...

  • All virtues are interlinked

There are both Moral Virtues and Intellectual Virtues

Moral Virtues - courage, temperance, modesty,patience and honesty

Intellectual Virtues - Skills, knowledge, common sense, wisdom, understanding and judgement. 

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Strengths & Weaknesses of Virtue Ethics

Strengths of Virtue Ethics

  • It centers ethics on the person and what it means to be human
  • It includes the whole of a person's life

Weaknesses of Virtue Ethics

  • It doesn't provide clear guidance on what to do in moral dilemmas
  • Although it does provide general guidance on how to be a good person
  • Presumably a totally virtuous person would know what to do and we could consider them a suitable role model to guide us
  • There is no general agreement on what the virtues are
  • And it may be that any list of virtues will be relative to the culture in which it is being drawn up.
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Divine Command Theory

The theory is commonly taught in Christian Ethics, which sees an act as morally right if it has been commanded by God and morally wrong if God has forbidden it. Ethics is not a matter of personal feelings of whats right and wrong, but those of a Higher Good. 

  • If we agree that Gods laws are absolute, the reason we must not lie is because God merely commanded it, which could have further problems. God could command that we lie, lying and not telling the truth would then be seen as acceptablebehavior
  • Socrates argues that God commands right behavior because it is right, God commands these as a result of his infinite wisdom and omniscience. God is good and commands what is good, only he can command what is right.
  • However, this raises the question, why should we follow these morals because God commands it? The answer because 'God commands it' will not take us very far, considering there is no evidence to support his existance. 
  • Theists argue that such an benevolent God would never command anything evil, but others argue that the all loving father might decide to be 'cruel to be kind'
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Divine Command Theory Continued...

  • Theists argue that goodness is not something external from God, but rather something that we identify him as, Goodness is what God means. 
  • God can be no more good than he already is

Cristicisms of the Divine Command Theory

  • Assumes that God is real
  • Hard to prove to someone whom dosent believe
  • No proof to support that God exists
  • Problems with interpreting and understanding what God's commands are
  • Logically possible to justify wrong acts such as **** and murder
  • Hard to define what God sees as morally good
  • God can change what he sees as good
  • Why should we obey a supreme moral Governor in the first place? Do we not have the right to decide what is wrong and right for ourselves?
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Euthyphro Dilemma

Plato's famous question concerning the nature of goodness asks whether a thing is good because God says it is good, or does God say it's good because it is good. This is known as 'Euthyphro's Dilemma'. Is Murder wrong because God says its wrong, or is it wrong in itself, independent from God? Surely Murder is not just wrong because God said it is. 

  • If we decide that moral actions are good are bad because God commanded they were, certain things follow; Firstly, if God never commanded what was good and bad, then they would never have been seen as this. Secondly, if God had said the opposite, then things that are good now, would be bad, and bad would now be good, which allows for vicious actions to be justified such as **** and murder
  • Socrates claims that if the standards of goodness are independent from God, then God is no longer the ultimate standard of morality. God seems to be diminished because he must refer to a higher set of absolutes which challenges the view that god is all powerful.
  • It seems there is no possible answer for this dilemma - if an act is right because God says so, then being obeying these are morally obituary.God could command for a person to kill someone and that would supposedly make it right. Could there be a standard of goodness independent from God? If there was no God, or 'commandments' to begin with, would we still be able to distinguish that murder and **** are wrong?
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Conclusion

It seems there is no possible answer for this dilemma - if an act is right because God says so, then being obeying these are morally obituary.God could command for a person to kill someone and that would supposedly make it right. Could there be a standard of goodness independent from God? If there was no God, or 'commandments' to begin with, would we still be able to distinguish that murder and **** are wrong?

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Kant

  • As a deneotologist, Kant is faced with the same problem encountered by other religious believers of how to arrive at a set of moral rules of princepals which are universally valid. 
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