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Aristotle Virtue Ethics Summary

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Aristotle outlined his theory of Virtue Ethics in his book Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle focused his idea of ethics on agents rather than acts. His main idea is focused on the idea of human character- how can you be a better person? In fact, Aristotle once said: “For we are enquiring not in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good, since otherwise our enquiry would be of no use.” Aristotle is given the credit for developing the idea of virtue ethics, but many of Plato's cardinal values influenced his ideas. Virtue Ethics is focused on the person's actions, not the consequences of that action. Aristotle believed if you had good moral values, then your actions would be "good" in theory. Rather than defining good actions,…show more content…
Aristotle and Plato both said that there are four "natural virtues": Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. These values are all necessary to achieve human flourishing. Another key part of Aristotle’s ethic is what he referred to as ‘The Golden Mean’. He believed that a virtue can not necessarily be viewed as a virtue when it is used in excess. For example, courage is a virtue, but in excess it becomes rashness, a vice rather than a virtue. Moreover, when there is a lack of a certain virtue, this is also considered a vice. Aristotle's ethic is based primarily on balance. There cannot be too much excess or too little of the virtue. Thus, he said: "The mean [i.e. the balance] is successful and commendable. Virtue then is a state of deliberate moral purpose consisting in a mean that is relative to ourselves, the mean being determined by reason, or as a prudent man would determine it.”
Aristotle emphasizes that this mean can only be found through the use of reason. Reason decides which emotions to put into practice to achieve balance. The golden mean advises against excess or deficiency, but it does not refute emotions. The golden mean directs people on how and to what extent they should allow their reason to govern
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