The Ideas of Virtue Ethics Essay

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The Ideas of Virtue Ethics

In an attempt to revive the ideas of virtue ethics, many philosophers have expressed their criticisms of so-called "modern ethical theories." Some examples are as follows. Pincoffs presents his idea that modern ethical theory (MET) reduces ethics to resolution of quandaries. Williams explains his idea that MET focuses on only a particular, peculiar variety of ethical thought called "morality." Stocker claims that MET lead to "moral schizophrenia." And Wolf claims MET embodies the idea of a moral saint. Among these critics, I believe that Pincoffs presents the strongest criticism of MET. According to Pincoffs, ethics today is concerned with finding rational grounds, often concieved of as moral rules and the
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He says that philosophers go along with MET because of scholarly convention. The modern theorist would say that METs are needed since nature dictates ethics and the time we live in is problem-plagued, quite possibly from problems created by technology and social change, we need new ways of solving problems. Pincoffs claims this argument fails for two reasons; one, many classical theories have been taught and adopted during tumultuous times in history and two, this objection would also be an attack of QE because the rules and principles it tries to provide will be forced to change as circumstances change. Pincoffs states, "Men can be perplexed because they are sensitive and conscientious people; because they do not have the sense to avoid perplexity; or because they are pathologically immobilized by moral questions. A well-founded ethics would encourage the development of moral sensitivity, but discourage moral quandaries which arise out of moral ineptness or pathological fixation." (189). The quandarist claims that when deciding the right thing to do (resolving a perplexity), QE is analogous to the law. One must realize, "what is relevant must have nothing to do with me, but only with the situation: a situation in which anyone could find himself. What is right for me is right for everyone," ( 193). Pincoffs claims this analogy with the law, with respect to the impersonality of the decision, whether an action is correct or not, is widely accepted. It lets the

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