- Originally thought up by Aristotle. The 'good' should not be decided by an action or principle but in the development of virtue, of personality. Good actions and rules are those which promote virtue. 'Eudemonia' is the perfect happiness achieved by finding the virtuous mean between excess and deficiency.
- Virtues may differ from community to community.
- In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle described 12 virtues: courage, temperance, liberality, munificence, high-mindedness, right ambition, good temper, friendliness, sincerity, wittiness, modesty, just resentment.
- Anscombe has developed Aristotle's ideas in rejecting deontological and teleological ethics.
- Alasdair MacIntyre also criticises modern ethics. He proposed three questions as being at the heart of moral thinking:
1. Who am I?
2. Who ought I to become?
3. How ought I to get there?
- Philippa Foot says that the virtues correct human tendencies. Critic of consequentialism.
- James Keenan "...being virtuous is more than having a particular habit of acting, e.g. generosity. Rather, it means having a fundamental set of related virtues that enable a person to live and act morally well."
- Keenan's list for today's virtues is: justice, self-care, fidelity, prudence
- Beauchamp and Childress' four professional medical priciples:
correspond closely to virtues.
Strengths of Virtue Theory:
- In the world of genetic modification and gene therapy, where things are changing so fast, virtue theory is adaptable and doesn't get caught up with the legalism of deontological systems, nor the subjectivism of consequentalist systems.
- VT encompasses all aspects of life rather than just a moral action.
- In focusing on the type of person we should aspire to become, it is easy to relate to.
- It can combine very easily with natural law, Kant, DCM/revealed ethics as well as with situation ethics.
- Important in education - about development, so can be used e.g. in the training of doctors - hippocratic oath.
- can be combined with teleological systems as…