An understanding of virtue ethics

Changing Modern Moral Philosophy a. Anscombe In Elisabeth Anscombe published a paper titled "Modern Moral Philosophy" that changed the way we think about normative theories. A law conception of ethics deals exclusively with obligation and duty.

An understanding of virtue ethics

It persisted as the dominant approach in Western moral philosophy until at least the Enlightenment, suffered a momentary eclipse during the nineteenth century, but re-emerged in Anglo-American philosophy in the late s.

Neither of them, at that time, paid attention to a number of topics that had always figured in the virtue ethics tradition—virtues and vices, motives and moral character, moral education, moral wisdom or discernment, friendship and family relationships, a deep concept of happiness, the role of the emotions in our moral life and the fundamentally important questions of what sorts of persons we should be and how we should live.

Its re-emergence had an invigorating effect on the other two approaches, many of whose proponents then began to address these topics in the terms of their favoured theory. It has also generated An understanding of virtue ethics ethical readings of philosophers other than Plato and Aristotle, such as Martineau, Hume and Nietzsche, and thereby different forms of virtue ethics have developed Slote ; Swantona.

See Annas for a short, clear, and authoritative account of all three. We discuss the first two in the remainder of this section. Eudaimonia is discussed in connection with eudaimonist versions of virtue ethics in the next. It is a disposition, well entrenched in its possessor—something that, as we say, goes all the way down, unlike a habit such as being a tea-drinker—to notice, expect, value, feel, desire, choose, act, and react in certain characteristic ways.

1st Edition

To possess a virtue is to be a certain sort of person with a certain complex mindset. A significant aspect of this mindset is the wholehearted acceptance of a distinctive range of considerations as reasons for action.

An honest person cannot be identified simply as one who, for example, practices honest dealing and does not cheat. An honest person cannot be identified simply as one who, for example, tells the truth because it is the truth, for one can have the virtue of honesty without being tactless or indiscreet.

Valuing honesty as she does, she chooses, where possible to work with honest people, to have honest friends, to bring up her children to be honest. She disapproves of, dislikes, deplores dishonesty, is not amused by certain tales of chicanery, despises or pities those who succeed through deception rather than thinking they have been clever, is unsurprised, or pleased as appropriate when honesty triumphs, is shocked or distressed when those near and dear to her do what is dishonest and so on.

Possessing a virtue is a matter of degree. To possess such a disposition fully is to possess full or perfect virtue, which is rare, and there are a number of ways of falling short of this ideal Athanassoulis Most people who can truly be described as fairly virtuous, and certainly markedly better than those who can truly be described as dishonest, self-centred and greedy, still have their blind spots—little areas where they do not act for the reasons one would expect.

So someone honest or kind in most situations, and notably so in demanding ones, may nevertheless be trivially tainted by snobbery, inclined to be disingenuous about their forebears and less than kind to strangers with the wrong accent. I may be honest enough to recognise that I must own up to a mistake because it would be dishonest not to do so without my acceptance being so wholehearted that I can own up easily, with no inner conflict.

The fully virtuous do what they should without a struggle against contrary desires; the continent have to control a desire or temptation to do otherwise.

Sorry! Something went wrong!

If it is the circumstances in which the agent acts—say that she is very poor when she sees someone drop a full purse or that she is in deep grief when someone visits seeking help—then indeed it is particularly admirable of her to restore the purse or give the help when it is hard for her to do so.

But if what makes it hard is an imperfection in her character—the temptation to keep what is not hers, or a callous indifference to the suffering of others—then it is not. The concept of a virtue is the concept of something that makes its possessor good: These are commonly accepted truisms.

But it is equally common, in relation to particular putative examples of virtues to give these truisms up. It is also said that courage, in a desperado, enables him to do far more wicked things than he would have been able to do if he were timid.

So it would appear that generosity, honesty, compassion and courage despite being virtues, are sometimes faults.

Someone who is generous, honest, compassionate, and courageous might not be a morally good person—or, if it is still held to be a truism that they are, then morally good people may be led by what makes them morally good to act wrongly!

How have we arrived at such an odd conclusion? The answer lies in too ready an acceptance of ordinary usage, which permits a fairly wide-ranging application of many of the virtue terms, combined, perhaps, with a modern readiness to suppose that the virtuous agent is motivated by emotion or inclination, not by rational choice.

Aristotle makes a number of specific remarks about phronesis that are the subject of much scholarly debate, but the related modern concept is best understood by thinking of what the virtuous morally mature adult has that nice children, including nice adolescents, lack.

Both the virtuous adult and the nice child have good intentions, but the child is much more prone to mess things up because he is ignorant of what he needs to know in order to do what he intends. A virtuous adult is not, of course, infallible and may also, on occasion, fail to do what she intended to do through lack of knowledge, but only on those occasions on which the lack of knowledge is not culpable.

Aristotle's Ethics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) Preliminaries Aristotle wrote two ethical treatises:
Virtue ethics began with Socratesand was subsequently developed further by [8] [9] [10] PlatoAristotleand the Stoics. Virtue ethics refers to a collection of normative ethical philosophies that place an emphasis on being rather than doing.

So, for example, children and adolescents often harm those they intend to benefit either because they do not know how to set about securing the benefit or because their understanding of what is beneficial and harmful is limited and often mistaken.

Such ignorance in small children is rarely, if ever culpable. Adults, on the other hand, are culpable if they mess things up by being thoughtless, insensitive, reckless, impulsive, shortsighted, and by assuming that what suits them will suit everyone instead of taking a more objective viewpoint.

They are also culpable if their understanding of what is beneficial and harmful is mistaken.

Forms of Virtue Ethics

It is part of practical wisdom to know how to secure real benefits effectively; those who have practical wisdom will not make the mistake of concealing the hurtful truth from the person who really needs to know it in the belief that they are benefiting him.

The detailed specification of what is involved in such knowledge or understanding has not yet appeared in the literature, but some aspects of it are becoming well known.

Even many deontologists now stress the point that their action-guiding rules cannot, reliably, be applied without practical wisdom, because correct application requires situational appreciation—the capacity to recognise, in any particular situation, those features of it that are morally salient."Understanding Virtue Ethics" is an accessible and lively introduction to the subject.

It provides a broad overview of the history of virtue ethics from Aristotle to Nietzsche as well as examining the ideas of such contemporary writers as Ricoeur and Levinas.4/4(1). Virtue ethics focuses on the development of sound moral character rather than moral rules.

In this theory, it is believed that having a virtuous character leads to virtuous decisions. Virtue-based ethical theories place less emphasis on which rules people should follow and instead focus on helping.

"Understanding Virtue Ethics" is an accessible and lively introduction to the subject. It provides a broad overview of the history of virtue ethics from Aristotle to Nietzsche as well as examining the ideas of such contemporary writers as Ricoeur and Levinas.

Sep 06,  · Virtue ethics is a system in which we place virtue as the measurement of morality, with virtue being a desirable or 'good' character attribute.

This is mirrored against the antonym of 'vice' or an undesirable character attribute. virtue but if self preservation is at stake by unjust person, deceptive truth or lying can be justified.

An understanding of virtue ethics

The virtue of loyalty towards family and friends at times can conflict with the virtue of right action that is prosecuting a relation or friend to uphold justice.

But it startles the sensibilities of common people as scene in the case of Euthyphro. CHAPTER 1. Understanding Ethics. Chapter Summary.

An understanding of virtue ethics

into three categories: virtue ethics, ethics for the greater good, and universal ethics. The Objective 2: Understanding Right and Wrong. Moral standards are principles based on religious, cultural, or philosophical.

Virtue Ethics - Understanding Basics