Virtue Ethics

1196 Words May 20th, 2008 5 Pages

Virtue ethics is a theory used to make moral decisions. It does not
rely on religion, society or culture; it only depends on the
individuals themselves. The main philosopher of Virtue Ethics is
Aristotle. His theory was originally introduced in ancient Greek
times. Aristotle was a great believer in virtues and the meaning of
virtue to him meant being able to fulfil one's functions. Virtue
ethics is not so much interested in the question 'What should I do?'
but rather in the question 'what sort of person should I become?' It
has more to do with character and the nature of what it is to be
human, than with the rights and wrongs of actions. Instead of
concentrating on what is the right thing to do, virtue ethics asks
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Aristotle says
we are most likely to acquire virtues by observing others in our
society. If we experience other people being kind to us and see the
happiness it creates we are more likely to practice this virtue then
if we were just told to practice it. Aristotle said that the best way
of becoming virtuous was to follow in the footsteps of a virtuous
person, e.g. Mother Theresa.

Aristotle said that a virtue was a 'Golden Mean' in between two vices.
These Vices are two extremes of the scale; one vice of excess and one
vice of deficiency. For example, for the virtue 'modesty', the vice of
excess would be bashfulness and the vice of deficiency would be
shamelessness. Aristotle mentions 12 virtues that all fall between two
vices. Some examples of these virtues are honesty, courage,
compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control,
and prudence. Such virtues must be refined; we must learn when to use
certain virtues and make sure that they do not fall into the vices; in
other words we must use them in moderation. For example we must not
ever use modesty in excess as we will become bashful, but at the same
time we must also not pass into the vice of deficiency-shamelessness.

Virtue Ethics is dependent; Aristotle realised that virtues in one
country or society may not be the same as virtues in another. As
virtues have…