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Virtue ethicsoverview and_re-visit


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Virtue ethicsoverview and_re-visit

  1. 1. Why Should I Be Moral? Because of My Character! Virtue Ethics
  2. 2. Aims of Today’s Lesson <ul><li>To deepen our understanding of what MacIntyre calls “a return to virtue” </li></ul>To consider how Christianity has adopted Virtue Ethics through its valuing of moral saints and heroes To identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of Virtue Ethics
  3. 3. Starter Exercise (15 Mins) <ul><li>To re-cap and build upon your learning from last lesson, you will be working together as a group to complete the time-line of Virtue on the front desk </li></ul><ul><li>I’ll explain the task by doing an example </li></ul>
  4. 4. Aretology <ul><li>Arete - Excellence, Strength, Virtue </li></ul><ul><li>Aretaic Ethics - Strength-Centered Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasises Virtues (Strengths) and Vices (Weaknesses) of Character </li></ul><ul><li>Not “What Should I Do?” but “What Kind of Person Should I Be?” </li></ul><ul><li>BEINGNESS not DOINGNESS </li></ul>
  5. 5. Aristotle and the Goal of Human Existence (384-322 BCE) <ul><li>Eudaimonia (p.g. 4) </li></ul><ul><li>Flourishing, Happiness </li></ul><ul><li>A Lifelong Pursuit, accomplished </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rationally, through reason and contemplation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Functionally, through practice </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Two Types of Virtue (p.g. 4-5) <ul><li>Intellectual Virtues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Wisdom, Understanding, Prudence (common sense) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inborn but developed through instruction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moral Virtues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Justice, Courage, Temperance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The result of habit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not natural or inborn but acquired through practice – habit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Those strengths of character that enable us to flourish” </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. The Doctrine of the Mean (p.g. 6) <ul><li>Proper position between two extremes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vice of excess </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vice of deficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Not an arithmetic average </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Relative to us and not the thing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not the same for all of us, or any of us, at various occasions </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Aristotle therefore said: <ul><li>&quot;Everybody who understands his business avoids alike excess and deficiency; he seeks and chooses the mean, not the absolute mean, but the mean considered relatively to ourselves.&quot; </li></ul>
  9. 9. Examples of the mean
  10. 10. Virtues and Community <ul><li>Aristotle said that virtues are defined and lived in community thus making friendship essential (p.g. 8) </li></ul><ul><li>Sharing a common identity and story </li></ul><ul><li>Modeling the Virtues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of Moral Exemplars (Saints and Heroes) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Moral Heroes and Heroines
  12. 12. Mother Theresa of Calcutta <ul><li>Not motivated by pity or obligation . </li></ul><ul><li>Saw &quot;the face of Jesus&quot; in the poor and dying. </li></ul><ul><li>Her work and her daily religious practice were both a participation in the story of Jesus. </li></ul>
  13. 13. The Aretaic Turn in Moral Philosophy <ul><li>Alasdair MacIntyre (p.g. 11) </li></ul><ul><li>After Virtue (1981) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Modern moral philosophy is bankrupt; it must recover the tradition of virtue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Importance of Narrative as a </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ lived tradition”, telling the stories of our saints </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Stanley Hauerwas <ul><li>Resident Aliens (1989) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Christianity has lost its soul. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Christians are not primarily </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>citizens of a liberal, democratic society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- Preach as if you have enemies like the first Christians did </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Provocative, offensive, challenging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ How Marriage is a Subversive Act” - fidelity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Why Gays (As a Group) Are Morally Superior to Christians (As a Group)” – they have conviction! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communitarian Ethics </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Example of Virtue Ethics <ul><li>Amish communities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anti-worldly 16th Century </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pacifist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Family </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Story </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. The Taliban Vice and Virtue Department <ul><ul><li>Anti-western </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Provocative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenging: behave in Islamic ways </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Story – what is our identity as followers of Islam, what virtues shape that identity </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Strengths of Virtue Ethics (p.g. 14f) <ul><li>Importance of the Person, Motive, Heart, Conscience – personal side of ethics </li></ul><ul><li>Connection to Community </li></ul><ul><li>Realization that morality is not defined by moments or rules but by a long-term process </li></ul><ul><li>Allowance for gray areas, varying contexts, different levels of moral maturity and life contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Attainable because works through examples of virtuous people </li></ul>
  18. 18. Weaknesses of Virtue Ethics <ul><li>How do we define virtue (Annas) </li></ul><ul><li>Robert Louden – is it practical, how does a person know what a “good person” would do when faced with an issue like abortion – virtues conflict etc </li></ul><ul><li>Over dependence on strong communities </li></ul><ul><li>Culture dependent </li></ul><ul><li>Susan Wolf - boring </li></ul><ul><li>Can be turned into a self-centred </li></ul>
  19. 19. Conclusions <ul><li>Utilitarianism and Deontology are helpful </li></ul><ul><li>But they demand some kind of larger criteria or grounding, some larger view </li></ul><ul><li>Virtue ethics seems to provide this, and </li></ul><ul><li>Seems to reflect Christian ethics best </li></ul>
  20. 20. Today’s Aims Met? <ul><li>To deepen our understanding of what MacIntyre calls “a return to virtue” </li></ul>To consider how Christianity has adopted Virtue Ethics through its valuing of moral saints and heroes To identify some of the strengths and weaknesses of Virtue Ethics
  21. 21. Aristotle (384 – 322 BCE) Plato ( 428 – 347 BC E) Homer (disagreement – just a very long time a go!) Ambrose (338 – 397 CE) Augustine ( 354 – 430 CE) Gregory (540 – 604 CE) This thinker stressed the concept of Eudaemonia (well being). The thinker spoke in terms of Moral and Intellectual Virtues and said that human beings flourished when they struck the mean between excess and deficiency in any of the virtues. For this thinker the ethical life was the life of virtue whereby a person learnt to be good even though ‘the good’ was not absolute This thinker believed in an ideal world of “good” and “virtue”. Yes a person can be good, this thinker said, but their goodness was really a poor reflection of the “perfect good” that lay in what was called “the world of Forms or ideas”. This thinker said that this world of ideal good and perfect virtue was like life outside of a cave. What we call “good” is just a pale reflection of that life Well it all began with this person. Said to be the author of two epic poems set against the backdrop of Troy, this apparently blind poet speaks of courage, physical strength, cunning and friendship. Whilst betrayal and deceit were seen as the opposite of friendship, friendship during war made life bearable and was therefore prized. This poet prized honour and virtue above all else. These thinkers translated the Greek Tradition of Virtue into an approach to ethics that Christianity could accept. One of them stressed the need for sexual virtue (on account of a little problem he had with his libido). For 1400 years these two thinkers set the stage for Christian ethics and made sure that Virtue lay at its heart
  22. 22. Aquinas ( 1225 – 1274 CE) Søren Kierkegaard ( 1813 – 1855 CE) Stanley Hauerwas (b. 1940 CE) G. E. Anscombe ‘ Modern Moral Philosophy’ 1958 Alasdair MacIntyre ‘ After Virtue’ 1981 This thinker wrote a book in this year called “After Virtue”. In it the thinker argued for practical ethics rooted in the “real world” and pleaded for human communities to be at the centre of ethical life. The thinker claimed that stories (and telling stories) has the power to create communities of virtue – where good is celebrated and bad frowned upon. This thinker is one we have yet to study. He’s a Christian Theologian who wrote a book in this year called “Resident Aliens”. Basically, this ethicist believes that Christians should live as if they were in heaven. Those around them should notice how different they are from the rest of the crowd. Christians, living by strong virtues like faithfulness, should be like resident aliens - radically different. This thinker was very extreme in the way that they went about thinking about ethics. The person spoke of ethics involving a “leap of faith” at a time when other philosophers were talking about reason and rationality. For this person, the most ethical person was Abraham – who listened to God, ignored reason, and took a leap of faith into the dark. This thinker is known as an existentialist. This thinker was one of the first Christian Theologians to really reflect on virtue from a Christian standpoint. To the cardinal virtues of courage, justice, temperance and wisdom, this thinker added three theological virtues: Faith, Hope And Charity Like St. Paul, he stressed that Love was the greatest virtue of all These thinker wrote an article in this year that really set moral philosophers thinking about virtue once more. The thinker said that moral philosophy since the enlightenment had thrown the baby out with the bath water and had become too obsessed with reason. The thinker pleaded for a return to Aristotle and the Virtue tradition.