Virtue Ethics


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Virtue Ethics

  1. 1. Chapter 8Virtue Ethics
  2. 2. • Virtue ethics focuses on the character of the actor instead of just the act itself• Considering Character – An act can be beneficial, but the motivations for the act can still not be morally good • We must examine the character and motives of the person performing the act – Therefore, the starting point is what characters are virtuous or vicious • A virtuous person does right acts for the right motivesThe Distinctive Focus ofVirtue Ethics
  3. 3. • Strengths – Emphasizes the strong connection between our acts and our character – Encourages us to consider our characters as unified wholes instead of viewing ethical decisions in isolation – Creates commitments that lead to more beneficial lives • Your personal goals are relevant to your character development, whether those goals are moral or nonmoralThe Strengths of VirtueEthics
  4. 4. • What Counts as Virtue? • Aristotle: a genuinely virtuous person is one who achieves true happiness and satisfaction • Rosalind Hursthouse and Philippa Foot: virtue is what promotes human flourishing • But how do we define “true happiness” or “human flourishing”? • Aristotle suggested another guide – The Golden Mean • Whatever is moderate is rightCriticisms of VirtueTheory
  5. 5. • Virtue Theory and Situationist Psychology • Much of our behavior is not the result of our characters, our character traits, and our virtues, but rather is controlled by the situation in which behavior occurs • Others claim that situationist experiments are not the best way to reveal character traitsCriticisms of VirtueTheory
  6. 6. • Virtue Theory and Individualism • Some object that virtue theory may be too individualistic • The focus should be on what acts contribute to the good of all (or at least society) • Too much emphasis on individual virtueCriticisms of VirtueTheory
  7. 7. • Virtue and Society • Which approach is the most basic: the cultivation of your individual virtue or the benefit of the whole? Which is more important?• Are There Multiple Sets of Virtues? • Do different societies require different virtues? • Or do we all share a common set of virtues?Criticisms of Virtue Ethics
  8. 8. • Virtue ethics has a wide application to medicine • Confidentiality • Medical Beneficence • The commitment to the good of the patient over one’s own self-interest • Example: When physicians refuse to treat AIDS patients because of the very small risk of infection to them, those physicians betray medical beneficence • A Virtuous Medical Hero • Rwandan doctor refused to abandon disabled patients, even though staying meant death • The doctor’s actions may not make utilitarian sense, but they exemplify an ideal of the medical professionVirtue Theory andMedicine
  9. 9. • Aristotle • Wrote an enormous body of work and was influential in almost every subject of knowledge in the ancient world • Works addressed logic, biology, metaphysics, ethics, poetry, and rhetoric • Nicomachean EthicsVirtue Ethics