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A2 Ethics - Virtue Ethics
A mindmap summarising the A2 Ethics topic of Virtue Ethics.
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A2 Ethics - Virtue Ethics
Happiness and well-being through being successful or fulfilled. it's the outcome of being virtuous.
We create a good life through cultivating virtues/
Well-being, peace and goodwill to all + physical good.
Holistic philosophy (deals with the whole picture). Must have a social context, the end result enables people to live together.
3 aspects to happiness:
People who can maintain all 3 have the virtue of wisdom.
Not easily or quickly achieved. We must add "in a complete life".
"For one swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy."
Ethical theory found in the quality, correct manner or disposition (hexis) of human beings. Developing the correct character (ethos) to behave virtuously and so be morally correct.
Moral and intellectual virtues
Acquired through habit, developed through practice.
Courage, temperance, liberality, generosity, pride, right/proper ambition, patience, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness, modesty, righteous indignation.
Developed through education.
Intelligence, practical reason, theoretical reason, understanding & good sense.
Doctrine of the mean
Need to balance excess and deficiency of each virtue
Aristotle's virtues (and their excess and deficiency vices)
3 types of person:
Sophron = naturally lives in the mean without effort
Enkrates = tempted but has will power so lives in the mean
Akrates =weak-willed, can't live in the mean by overcoming temptation
Cardinal virtues + Capital vices
Moral Cardinal Virtues: courage and temperance
Intellectual Cardinal Virtues: justice and wisdom
Cardinal virtues are most important to develop
Wisdom manages and drives all other virtures
Capital Vices NOT Aristotle's idea. Proposed by Christian thinkers much later.
The 7 deadly sins e.g pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth etc.
Modern virtue ethics
E.g. Greek heroes were defined by their actions, virtues and vices.
Virtues such as truthfulness, courage and justice are essential to maintain a good, moral character but also the integrity of a community.
Internal and external goods
Internal goods are actions that are obvious and direct e.g. giving money to the poor.
External goods produced out of moral acts e.g. inspiring others to behave morally.
The 3 archetypal characters (bureaucratic manager, rich aesthete and therapist).
Dominate the ethos of modern society and obscure true virtue.
They use people, money or materialism as ways of manipulating others for self-interest.
The ideal character as a role model of modern society is the philosopher.
Virtue Ethics doesn't guarantee happiness but is often a part of achieving it.
Founder of Oxfam, believed in improving the world for others.
Differences between Foot and Aristotle
Foot: Wisdom is a moral AND intellectual virtue
Anyone can achieve wisdom; it doesn't rely on social status, political power or intellectual power.
Sophron: Moral hero = does good but not pure intentions and Moral saint = does good from pure intentions
She rejected pride as a virtue.
First to again analyse human qualities as a key to ethical theory
Rejected absolutist approaches as they require a God.
Ethical progress comes from pursuing human flourishing (eudaimonia)
The use of wealth
How we respond to materialistic context is crucial in developing virtue.
Liberality and magnificence are needed.
If people and governments around the world adopted these virtues it would prevent world poverty and suffering.
Must be generous but not tainted by meanness or wastefulness
Balance extremes and vices. Human aid can allow dependence by giving short-term emergency aid or create independence by long-term strategies to help people survive in the future.
"give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for life." - Christian Aid's response to world poverty.
To allow total dependence would be wasteful but to ignore poverty would be mean.
A virtuous person/government would provide immediate short-term aid as well as encouraging independence.
Although it is self-focused it's other regarding. Self-improvement builds a better community.
The virtuous person is the exemplar so it has guiding principles
Appeals to feminist thinkers as an alternative to rules and duties (a male way of approaching life). Other systems have been devised by men for men.
Naturalistic system, not dependent on religion.
Promotes lasting change
Imprecise and vague, more guidance is required.
It's contradictory and subjective.
It's too intellectual for everyone to understand + Aristotle said we don't all have the same ability to resist vice.
Too much dependence on the potential goodness of others. It's naïve.
Exhibits speciesism as it focuses on humanity as the supreme being (Peter Singer would take issue with this)
Comparison with deontological and teleological systems
Idea of duty and doing the right thing.
Virtues could be moral absolutes
Mel Thompson see it as an extension of Natural Law
Contextual moral dilemmas like situation ethics/utilitarianism.
Person-centred not rule-centred.
The virtues are very different to the rules in other systems.
Compatibility with religion
Stresses altruism (a concern for well-being of others), like religion does.
Promotes responsibility of the individual to better themselves.
Religious thinkers have developed the theory e.g. Aquinas
No rules could encourage an 'anything goes' society, not consistent with religion
Won't appeal to traditional, conservative religious followers due to liberal and subjective aspects.
Other ethical systems might be more attractive e.g. situation ethics.
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