Gier published in Dialogue: The virtue of a knife is to cut well, and the virtue of a racehorse is to run well. According to Aristotle, human excellence is found in rational and moral activity, and the specific virtues, such as courage, temperance, justice and wisdom, are cultivated so that we function well and attain happiness eudaimonia within society.
There are three main strands of Virtue Ethics: Eudaimonism is the classical formulation of Virtue Ethics. Indeed, such a virtuous life would in itself constitute eudaimonia, which should be seen as an objective, not a subjective, state, characterized by the well-lived life, irrespective of the emotional state of the person experiencing it.
A virtue is a habit or quality that allows individuals to succeed at their purpose. Therefore, Virtue Ethics is only intelligible if it is teleological i. Aristotlewith whom Virtue Ethics is largely identified, categorized the virtues as moral virtues including prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance and intellectual virtues including "sophia" or theoretical wisdom, and "phronesis" or practical wisdom.
Aristotle further argued that each of the moral virtues was a golden mean, or desirable middle ground, between two undesirable extremes e. Ethics of Care was developed mainly by Feminist writers e.
Annette Baier in the second half of the 20th Century, and was motivated by the idea that men think in masculine terms such as justice and autonomy, whereas woman think in feminine terms such as caring. It calls for a change in how we view morality and the virtues, shifting towards virtues exemplified by women, such as taking care of others, patience, the ability to nurture, self-sacrifice, etc, which have been marginalized because society has not adequately valued the contributions of women.
It emphasizes the importance of solidarity, community and relationships rather than universal standards and impartiality. It argues that instead of doing the right thing even if it requires personal cost or sacrificing the interest of family or community members as the traditional Consequentialist and deontological approaches suggestwe can, and indeed should, put the interests of those who are close to us above the interests of complete strangers.
Agent-Based Theories, as developed recently by Michael Slote -give an account of virtue based on our common-sense intuitions about which character traits are admirable e. The evaluation of actions is therefore dependent on ethical judgments about the inner life of the agents who perform those actions.
Virtue Ethics, essentially Eudaimonismwas the prevailing approach to ethical thinking in the Ancient and Medieval periods.
It suffered something of an eclipse during the Early Modern period, although it is still one of the three dominant approaches to normative Ethics the others being Deontology and Consequentialism.
The term "virtue ethics" is a relatively recent one, essentially coined during the 20th Century revival of the theory, and it originally defined itself by calling for a change from the then dominant normative theories of Deontology and Consequentialism.
He also claimed that the rational part of the soul or mind must govern the spirited, emotional and appetitive parts in order to lead all desires and actions to eudaimonia, the principal constituent of which is virtue.
Aristotle held that eudaimonia is constituted, not by honor, wealth or power, but by rational activity in accordance with virtue over a complete life, what might be described today as productive self-actualization.
This rational activity, he judged, should manifest as honesty, pride, friendliness, wittiness, rationality in judgment; mutually beneficial friendships and scientific knowledge. Non-Western moral and religious philosophies, such as Confucianism in ancient China, also incorporate ideas that may appear similar to those developed by the ancient Greeks and, like ancient Greek EthicsChinese ethical thought makes an explicit connection between virtue and statecraft or politics.
The Greek idea of the virtues was later incorporated into Scholastic Christian moral theology, particularly by St. Practice of these virtues was alleged to protect one against temptation from the Seven Deadly Sins lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.
Virtue Ethics has been a recurring theme of Political Philosophyespecially in the emergence of classical Liberalismthe Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th Century, and the theoretical underpinnings behind the American Revolution of However, although some Enlightenment philosophers e.
David Hume continued to emphasize the virtues, with the ascendancy of Utilitarianism and DeontologyVirtue Ethics moved to the margins of Western philosophy. In the second half of the 20th Century, there was a minor revival of Virtue Ethics, principally due to the efforts of Elizabeth Anscombe -Philippa Foot -Alasdair MacIntyre -Paul Ricoeur - and Stanley Hauerwas.
Criticisms of Virtue Ethics Back to Top According to critics, a major problem with the theory is the difficulty of establishing the nature of the virtues, especially as different people, cultures and societies often have vastly different opinions on what constitutes a virtue.As such, Aristotle holds that we can ground our beliefs in the sensible world with some assurance.
At the heart of Aristotle’s criticism of Plato’s Theory of Forms is the idea that. The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
3 Towards the end of The Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle returns to the question in almost identical terms: ‘The man who is to be good must be well trained and habituated.’14 In Book VII of the Politics, where Aristotle discusses the ideal state and, in particular, education in that state, he returns to the question, ‘How does a man become virtuous?’.
Aristotle applied the same patient, careful, descriptive approach to his examination of moral philosophy in the Εθικη Νικομαχοι (Nicomachean Ethics).
Here he discussed the conditions under which moral responsibility may be ascribed to individual agents, the nature of the virtues and vices involved in moral evaluation, and the methods of achieving happiness in human life. Published: Tue, 09 Jan Aristotle Education and Plato.
Through the life of Aristotle, one would wonder how a mere thought of philosophy could impact the . To Mr. Stewart also I wish to express my gratitude, not only for much assistance derived from his admirable “Notes on the Nicomachean Ethics” (Oxford, ), but also for much kindly and helpful criticism in that work and in a review of my first edition (Mind, July, ).