Virtue Ethics

1184 Words May 8th, 2008 5 Pages
Introduction

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

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