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Aristotle is considered to be the
most important virtue ethicist.
SPA
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle
• n
Aristotle was
Plato’s student,
and Plato was
Socrates
student.
Plato: The Three Souls
Intellectual soul whose virtue is
wisdom, the most important virtue.
Intellectual soul should rule ...
The parts of the soul of the
virtuous (arete) person are in
harmony and in right order
Such person can live a good life
(e...
Plato: The virtuous human and state
Reason
Will
Desire
Rulers
(philosophe
rs)
Soldiers
Workers
The parts of human soul The...
How to live a
flourishing life?
Aristotelian philosophy and
the place of virtue ethics in it
 Aristotle attempts to identify what are
the characteristics...
Happiness
 When one does what one is supposed to
do, one feels fulfillment.
 In other words, when one is what one is
sup...
The animal called ”human
being”
 There are natural criteria for judging
whether the act is leads to happiness
(eudaimonia...
Key concepts of Aristotelian
virtue ethics
 ergon (function)
 eudaimonia (flourishing)
 arête (excellence or virtue)
 ...
1. Ergon (function)
What is the function of
human being?
 Aristotle asks what is the ergon (“function,” “task,”
“work”) of a human being is, ...
What is the function of
human being? (cont)
 Human beings are the only species that has not only
these lower capacities b...
Three different kinds of
souls
1. Plant soul – capacity for nourishment
and reproduction
2. Animal soul –capacities of
per...
Aristotle: types of souls
Aristotle’s division of the soul
Non-rational element Rational elements
Nutrition/growth Theoretical reason
Practical reas...
 n
 n
flourishing life
Eudaimonia – differend
translations of the term
 Eudaimonia is standardly translated as "happiness" or
"flourishing" and ...
Eudaimonia – the true
happiness
 Eudaimonia is a moralised, or "value-laden"
concept of happiness, something like "true"
...
Is something else than virtues
needed in order to achieve
eudaimonia?
 Aristotle says that virtue is necessary
but not su...
Happiness and friendship
 Friendship is one of the most important
virtues in achieving the goal of
eudaimonia (happiness)...
The supreme value of
friendship
 Friendship based on virtue is long lasting and tough to obtain because these
types of pe...
3. Virtue (arete)
What makes virtue a virtue
that promotes eudaimonia?
1. Eudaimonism - the virtues are what enable a human
being to be euda...
3. Virtue (arete)
 Arete could be translated “excellence”, standard
translation, however, is “virtue”
 A virtue such as ...
4. Phronesis – an important
element of practical reason
 Phronesis is something that the virtuous morally mature adult
ha...
The animal called ”human
being”
 There are natural criteria for judging
whether the act is leads to happiness
(eudaimonia...
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and allegedly
EVERYBODY agree on that
• Everybody wants to have good
(eudaimonia) life.
Human being is a Goal-directed
system
• As the human being wants to have good
(eudaimonia) life, she is a goal-directed
sy...
Failure and success
• The person who achieves eudaimonia,
achieves the goal of the human being.
• The person who does not,...
Failures
• People who fail to achieve the goal, do so
because their soul are not in balance.
• The unbalanced soul strives...
Success
• The good life can only be achieved by
striving for the best things in the right way.
• The best things are truth...
What are virtues and what
virtues are there?
The Aristotelian Mean
also called the Golden Mean
The virtuous (right) conduct as a
mean between two vices of
excess
Virtue is a “golden mean” between the
extremes of excess and deficiency
• Courage, for example, is a mean
regarding the fe...
Situation Vice of Deficiency Virtue (Mean) Vice of Excess
Danger Cowardice Courage Foolhardiness
Satisfaction of
appetites...
Personal differences
• The mean is “relative to ourselves,” indicating
that one person’s mean may be another
person’s extr...
Criticism against virtue ethics
No fundamental principles
• Virtue ethics doesn’t provide fundamental
principles that would amount into decision
procedure...
The problem of cultural
relativism
• Different cultures embody different virtues, and
hence what is virtuous is relative t...
For discussion?
Is abstaining from murder a mean of some
continuum?
The weak, the strong, and the virtuous
• Weak is the one who is not able to resist her wicked
desires.
• Strong is the one...
For discussion
Is it possible for all to learn to want the
right things in the right way?
If not then to whom it is not po...
Two kinds of virtues
There are two kinds of virtues:
1) Intellectual virtues
2) Moral virtues
Two kinds of Intellectual virtues
There are two kinds of intellectual virtues.
a) Theoretical intelligence (nous) is the h...
2) Moral virtues
• A moral virtue is the ability to be reasonable in actions, desires
and emotions.
• For example, courage...
Two kinds of good life
• All kind of good life is life in the
guidance of reason.
• There is, however, two kinds of
good l...
The life devoted to study
and thinking
• 1. The good life in which the
subject devotes himself to
abstract contemplation o...
Active life in society
2. The other alternative is active
life in society which involves
taking part in all the activities...
Aristotelian virtue ethics
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Aristotelian virtue ethics

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Aristotelian virtue ethics - high school philosophy

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Aristotelian virtue ethics

  1. 1. Aristotle is considered to be the most important virtue ethicist.
  2. 2. SPA Socrates, Plato, Aristotle • n Aristotle was Plato’s student, and Plato was Socrates student.
  3. 3. Plato: The Three Souls Intellectual soul whose virtue is wisdom, the most important virtue. Intellectual soul should rule over the other parts of the souls. The will-soul whose virtue is courage which is the second most important virtue. Desire-soul whose virtue is moderation which is the third most important virtue. Plato was a virtue ethicist too.
  4. 4. The parts of the soul of the virtuous (arete) person are in harmony and in right order Such person can live a good life (eudaimonia)
  5. 5. Plato: The virtuous human and state Reason Will Desire Rulers (philosophe rs) Soldiers Workers The parts of human soul The classes of a state Wisdom Courage Moderation
  6. 6. How to live a flourishing life?
  7. 7. Aristotelian philosophy and the place of virtue ethics in it  Aristotle attempts to identify what are the characteristics of human being that differentiate it from other species.  Every species has its own role in the universe.  It is the fulfilling its role well that defines what is the ultimate good of that thing or animal.
  8. 8. Happiness  When one does what one is supposed to do, one feels fulfillment.  In other words, when one is what one is supposed to be, one is happy.  Happiness / satisfaction is considered to be a good thing.  In fact happiness is the ONLY really good thing in the sense that we don’t want it for the sake of another thing (as a tool) but for its own sake.
  9. 9. The animal called ”human being”  There are natural criteria for judging whether the act is leads to happiness (eudaimonia) to misery  These criteria are defined by what the human being (as a species) is.  By observing, what makes human being happy (eudaimonia) and what make him suffer, one can find out what kind of acts are virtuous.
  10. 10. Key concepts of Aristotelian virtue ethics  ergon (function)  eudaimonia (flourishing)  arête (excellence or virtue)  phronesis (practical or moral wisdom)
  11. 11. 1. Ergon (function)
  12. 12. What is the function of human being?  Aristotle asks what is the ergon (“function,” “task,” “work”) of a human being is, and argues that it consists in activity of the rational part of the soul in accordance with virtue.  One important component of this argument is expressed in terms of distinctions he makes in his psychological and biological works.  The soul is analyzed into a connected series of capacities: the nutritive soul is responsible for growth and reproduction, the locomotive soul for motion, the perceptive soul for perception, and so on.
  13. 13. What is the function of human being? (cont)  Human beings are the only species that has not only these lower capacities but a rational soul as well.  The good of a human being must have something to do with being human; and what sets humanity off from other species, giving us the potential to live a better life, is our capacity to guide ourselves by using reason.  If we use reason well, we live well as human beings; or, to be more precise, using reason well over the course of a full life is what happiness consists in.  Doing anything well requires virtue or excellence, and therefore living well consists in activities caused by the rational soul in accordance with virtue or excellence.
  14. 14. Three different kinds of souls 1. Plant soul – capacity for nourishment and reproduction 2. Animal soul –capacities of perception and self-motion 3. Intellectual soul – capacity to reason  Plants have 1  Animals have 1,2  Human beings have 1,2,3
  15. 15. Aristotle: types of souls
  16. 16. Aristotle’s division of the soul Non-rational element Rational elements Nutrition/growth Theoretical reason Practical reasonDesire/emotion
  17. 17.  n
  18. 18.  n
  19. 19. flourishing life
  20. 20. Eudaimonia – differend translations of the term  Eudaimonia is standardly translated as "happiness" or "flourishing" and occasionally as "well-being.“  Each translation has its disadvantages.  "flourishing" - animals and even plants can flourish but eudaimonia is possibly only for rational beings.  "happiness“ – in modern understanding it connotes something which is subjectively determined. It is for me, not for you, to pronounce on whether I am happy. But according to classical thinkers I may have wrong idea about what eudaimonia is and therefore think that I am have eudaimon but I fact I don’t.  comparison: I might think that I am healthy but am not
  21. 21. Eudaimonia – the true happiness  Eudaimonia is a moralised, or "value-laden" concept of happiness, something like "true" or "real" happiness or "the sort of happiness worth seeking or having.“  Thereby virtue ethicists claim that a human life devoted to physical pleasure or the acquisition of wealth is not eudaimon, but a wasted life  All standard versions of virtue ethics agree that living a life in accordance with virtue is necessary for eudaimonia.  Eudaimonia involves virtuous life – virtues are goals in themselves, not instruments for achieving eudaimonia.
  22. 22. Is something else than virtues needed in order to achieve eudaimonia?  Aristotle says that virtue is necessary but not sufficient — what is also needed are external goods that are (to an extent) a matter of luck:  Health  Wealth  Friends  Functional society
  23. 23. Happiness and friendship  Friendship is one of the most important virtues in achieving the goal of eudaimonia (happiness).  While there are different kinds of friendship, the highest is one that is based on virtue (arête).  This type of friendship is based on a person wishing the best for their friends regardless of utility or pleasure.  Aristotle calls it a “… complete sort of friendship between people who are good and alike in virtue …”
  24. 24. The supreme value of friendship  Friendship based on virtue is long lasting and tough to obtain because these types of people are hard to come by and it takes a lot of work to have a complete, virtuous friendship.  Aristotle notes that one cannot have a large number of friends because of the amount of time and care that a virtuous friendship requires.  Aristotle values friendship so highly that he argues friendship supersedes justice and honor.  First of all, friendship seems to be so valued by people that no one would choose to live without friends.  People who value honor will likely seek out either flattery or those who have more power than they do, in order that they may obtain personal gain through these relationships.  Aristotle believes that the love of friendship is greater than this because it can be enjoyed as it is. “Being loved, however, people enjoy for its own sake, and for this reason it would seem it is something better than being honoured and that friendship is chosen for its own sake”.  The emphasis on enjoyment here is noteworthy: a virtuous friendship is one that is most enjoyable since it combines pleasure and virtue together, thus fulfilling our emotional and intellectual natures.
  25. 25. 3. Virtue (arete)
  26. 26. What makes virtue a virtue that promotes eudaimonia? 1. Eudaimonism - the virtues are what enable a human being to be eudaimon because the virtues just are those character traits that benefit their possessor in that way, barring bad luck. 2. Pluralism - the good life is the morally meritorious life, the morally meritorious life is one that is responsive to the demands of the world. The virtues just are those character traits in virtue of which their possessor is thus responsive. 3. Perfectionism or naturalism - the good life is the life characteristically lived by someone who is good qua human being, and the virtues enable their possessor to live such a life because the virtues just are those character traits that make their possessor good qua human being (an excellent specimen of her kind.)
  27. 27. 3. Virtue (arete)  Arete could be translated “excellence”, standard translation, however, is “virtue”  A virtue such as honesty or generosity is not just a tendency to do what is honest or generous, nor is it to be helpfully specified as a "desirable" or "morally valuable" character trait.  A character trait —a disposition to be behave in certain way  Virtue is not like a habit which is more specific, action oriented, and related to something particular (habit of drinking tea)  Virtue is more “general” in nature: it enables its possessor to evaluate things in an appropriate way so that one has – as a result of this virtue - right kinds of emotions, attitudes, desires, perceptions, expectations, sensibilities.  Virtue enables one to make right choices from the point of view of eudaimonia (flourishing life).
  28. 28. 4. Phronesis – an important element of practical reason  Phronesis is something that the virtuous morally mature adult has that nice children, including nice adolescents, lack.  Both 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.  Children and adolescents often harm those they intend to benefit either because they do not know how to set about securing the benefit or, more importantly, because their understanding of what is beneficial and harmful is limited and often mistaken.  Such ignorance in small children is rarely, if ever culpable, and frequently not in adolescents, but it usually is in adults.  Adults 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.
  29. 29. The animal called ”human being”  There are natural criteria for judging whether the act is leads to happiness (eudaimonia) to misery  These criteria are defined by what the human being (as a species) is.  By observing, what makes human being happy (eudaimonia) and what make him suffer, one can find out what kind of acts are virtuous.
  30. 30. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and allegedly EVERYBODY agree on that • Everybody wants to have good (eudaimonia) life.
  31. 31. Human being is a Goal-directed system • As the human being wants to have good (eudaimonia) life, she is a goal-directed system.
  32. 32. Failure and success • The person who achieves eudaimonia, achieves the goal of the human being. • The person who does not, fails to achieve the goal of the human being.
  33. 33. Failures • People who fail to achieve the goal, do so because their soul are not in balance. • The unbalanced soul strives for wrong things in the wrong way in the guidance of uncontrolled and distorted desires.
  34. 34. Success • The good life can only be achieved by striving for the best things in the right way. • The best things are truth, goodness, and beauty. • Only the virtuous soul can achieve happiness. • TO BE HAPPY, YOU NEED TO VIRTUOUS!
  35. 35. What are virtues and what virtues are there?
  36. 36. The Aristotelian Mean also called the Golden Mean The virtuous (right) conduct as a mean between two vices of excess
  37. 37. Virtue is a “golden mean” between the extremes of excess and deficiency • Courage, for example, is a mean regarding the feeling of fear, between the deficiency of rashness (too little fear) and the excess of cowardice (too much fear). • Benevolence is a mean between giving to people who don’t deserve it and not giving to anyone at all.
  38. 38. Situation Vice of Deficiency Virtue (Mean) Vice of Excess Danger Cowardice Courage Foolhardiness Satisfaction of appetites Inhibition Temperance Overindulgence Giving gifts Miserliness Generosity Extravagance Pursuit of goals Unambitiousness Proper ambition Excess Ambition Self appraisal Feelings of inferiority Proper pride Vanity Response to insults Apathy Patience Irascibility Social conduct Rudeness Friendliness Obsequiousness Awareness of one’s flaws Shamelessness Modesty Shyness Conversation Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
  39. 39. Personal differences • The mean is “relative to ourselves,” indicating that one person’s mean may be another person’s extreme. • Milo the wrestler, as Aristotle puts it, needs more gruel than a normal person, and his mean diet will vary accordingly. • Similarly for the moral virtues. Aristotle suggests that some people are born with weaker wills than others; for these people, it may actually be a mean to flee in battle (the extremes being to get slaughtered or commit suicide).
  40. 40. Criticism against virtue ethics
  41. 41. No fundamental principles • Virtue ethics doesn’t provide fundamental principles that would amount into decision procedure for determining what to do. – Reply: • Is it not realistic to hope that there are such principles • Principles and logic are not enough to determine what to do
  42. 42. The problem of cultural relativism • Different cultures embody different virtues, and hence what is virtuous is relative to particular culture. Therefore, one type can of action can be both right and wrong depending on the culture. This is not helpful for anyone who wants to do what is right. – Reply: All other normative theories have the same problem
  43. 43. For discussion? Is abstaining from murder a mean of some continuum?
  44. 44. The weak, the strong, and the virtuous • Weak is the one who is not able to resist her wicked desires. • Strong is the one who can resist them. • What is common for them is the wicked desires. • There is fight going on in the souls of both and, therefore, neither one of them is really happy. • Happy is the one who through upringing and practice has learned to want those things that the reason tries to achieve. • The kind of person who is capable of this is virtuous (therefore: virtue ethics).
  45. 45. For discussion Is it possible for all to learn to want the right things in the right way? If not then to whom it is not possible? If yes, how? Or do you think that there is no problem at all. People always want right things in the right way?
  46. 46. Two kinds of virtues There are two kinds of virtues: 1) Intellectual virtues 2) Moral virtues
  47. 47. Two kinds of Intellectual virtues There are two kinds of intellectual virtues. a) Theoretical intelligence (nous) is the human faculty that apprehends fundamental principles such as the laws of thinking and other fundamental truths. Intelligence apprehends these truths directly and without demonstration or inference. • This is unique to humans and gods. • Theoretical intelligence cannot be learned. • All people have some theoretical intelligence, some people have a lot of it. b) The other kind of intellectual virtue is practical wisdom. • The practical wisdom is the ability to make right judgement on practical issues. • It can be learned. • Old people normally have more of it than the young.
  48. 48. 2) Moral virtues • A moral virtue is the ability to be reasonable in actions, desires and emotions. • For example, courage is the ability to deal with fear in a reasonable way. • Courage is the reasonable mean between cowardice and foolhardiness or rashness. • A virtue is the mean between two extremes, a vice of deficiency and a vice of excess. • In the case of courage, cowardice would be the vice of deficiency and foolhardiness would be the vice of excess. • Moral virtue is the outcome of habit. • Virtues are not implanted on us by nature. • We acquire virtues by exercising them.
  49. 49. Two kinds of good life • All kind of good life is life in the guidance of reason. • There is, however, two kinds of good life.
  50. 50. The life devoted to study and thinking • 1. The good life in which the subject devotes himself to abstract contemplation of knowledge. • This is truly the best way of life, but it is not within the reach of all men.
  51. 51. Active life in society 2. The other alternative is active life in society which involves taking part in all the activities that human beings undertake to make their own life and the life of their society better.

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