G7 virtue ethics

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G7 virtue ethics

  1. 1. The Ethics of Virtue <ul><li>Virtue ethics date back to Aristotle (325B.C.) in his Nichomachean Ethics. </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle’s central question: “What is the good of man?” </li></ul>
  2. 2. Supreme Good <ul><li>Happiness – supreme good chosen for itself and never for something else. </li></ul><ul><li>More than a mere truism </li></ul><ul><li>What is the nature of happiness? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we achieve happiness? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Virtue and Function <ul><li>Aristotle holds that happiness (or that which makes someone happy) is tied to the proper functioning of a thing. </li></ul><ul><li>“ good hammer” = that which functions well at hammering </li></ul><ul><li>What is the unique function of man? </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Function of Man <ul><li>Aristotle holds that the unique function of man is his power of thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Full development of reason will make man happy </li></ul><ul><li>Life of Reason: “activity of the soul in conformity with virtue” – clear judgment that is self-centered </li></ul><ul><li>Rational Principle = Golden Mean </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Golden Mean <ul><li>Virtue is the mean between two extremes relative to the individuals. </li></ul><ul><li>Excess-------Mean-------Deficiency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rashness----- Bravery -----Cowardice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The good person is one who habitually follows the mean. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Contemporary Virtue Ethics <ul><li>Virtue (defined): a trait of character, manifested in habitual action, which is good for a person to have. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of Virtues: (Partial list – no absolute or complete list) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Benevolence, Fairness, Self-Discipline </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-Reliance , Honesty, Tolerance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conscientiousness, Loyalty, Justice </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Importance of the Virtues? <ul><li>Virtuous person will fare better in life. </li></ul><ul><li>Virtues are needed to live well </li></ul><ul><li>We need virtues to live in community with others </li></ul><ul><li>Necessary to pursue our own ends and cope with life’s challenges </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Nature of the Virtues <ul><li>Are the virtues the same for everyone? Yes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All people need virtue just to different degrees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Certain virtues will be necessary for some cultures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Radical Virtues Ethics: get rid of the notion of morally right and morally wrong. Use virtuous and non-virtuous. </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Advantages of Virtue Ethics <ul><li>Moral Motivation – certain situations are handled by an appeal to virtue rather than right action or duty. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: Visiting a friend in the hospital </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtue: Friendship, Love, Loyalty </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Doubts about the ideal of impartiality – relationships with family and friends are difficult to account for in other moral approaches. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Problems with Virtue Ethics <ul><li>Problem of Incompleteness </li></ul><ul><li>Lie/Don’t Lie -> </li></ul><ul><li>Honesty is a virtue -> </li></ul><ul><li>What does it mean to be honest? -> </li></ul><ul><li>One who follows rules such as “Do not lie” -> </li></ul><ul><li>Why this rule? -> Non-virtue consideration </li></ul>
  11. 11. Problems with Virtue Ethics (Continued) <ul><li>Problem of Conflicting Virtues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Friendship vs. Justice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Is there a virtue to cover every situation? For any good reason given in favor of doing an action, there is a corresponding virtue consists of a disposition to accept and act on that reason. </li></ul>

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