A2 Ethics - Virtue Ethics


A mindmap summarising the A2 Ethics topic of Virtue Ethics.
Heloise Tudor
Mind Map by Heloise Tudor, updated more than 1 year ago
Heloise Tudor
Created by Heloise Tudor over 9 years ago

Resource summary

A2 Ethics - Virtue Ethics
  1. Eudaimonia
    1. Happiness and well-being through being successful or fulfilled. it's the outcome of being virtuous.
      1. We create a good life through cultivating virtues/
        1. Well-being, peace and goodwill to all + physical good.
          1. Holistic philosophy (deals with the whole picture). Must have a social context, the end result enables people to live together.
            1. 3 aspects to happiness:
              1. enjoyment
                1. freedom
                  1. Philosophy
                    1. People who can maintain all 3 have the virtue of wisdom.
                      1. 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."
                  2. 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.
                    1. Moral and intellectual virtues
                      1. Moral
                        1. Acquired through habit, developed through practice.
                          1. Courage, temperance, liberality, generosity, pride, right/proper ambition, patience, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness, modesty, righteous indignation.
                          2. Intellectual
                            1. Developed through education.
                              1. Intelligence, practical reason, theoretical reason, understanding & good sense.
                            2. Doctrine of the mean
                              1. Need to balance excess and deficiency of each virtue


                                1. 3 types of person:
                                  1. Sophron = naturally lives in the mean without effort
                                    1. Enkrates = tempted but has will power so lives in the mean
                                      1. Akrates =weak-willed, can't live in the mean by overcoming temptation
                                    2. Cardinal virtues + Capital vices
                                      1. Moral Cardinal Virtues: courage and temperance
                                        1. Intellectual Cardinal Virtues: justice and wisdom
                                          1. Cardinal virtues are most important to develop
                                            1. Wisdom manages and drives all other virtures
                                              1. Capital Vices NOT Aristotle's idea. Proposed by Christian thinkers much later.
                                                1. The 7 deadly sins e.g pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, sloth etc.
                                              2. Modern virtue ethics
                                                1. MacIntyre
                                                  1. E.g. Greek heroes were defined by their actions, virtues and vices.
                                                    1. Virtues such as truthfulness, courage and justice are essential to maintain a good, moral character but also the integrity of a community.
                                                      1. Internal and external goods
                                                        1. Internal goods are actions that are obvious and direct e.g. giving money to the poor.
                                                          1. External goods produced out of moral acts e.g. inspiring others to behave morally.
                                                          2. The 3 archetypal characters (bureaucratic manager, rich aesthete and therapist).
                                                            1. Dominate the ethos of modern society and obscure true virtue.
                                                              1. They use people, money or materialism as ways of manipulating others for self-interest.
                                                                1. The ideal character as a role model of modern society is the philosopher.
                                                              2. Foot
                                                                1. Virtue Ethics doesn't guarantee happiness but is often a part of achieving it.
                                                                  1. Founder of Oxfam, believed in improving the world for others.
                                                                    1. Differences between Foot and Aristotle
                                                                      1. Foot: Wisdom is a moral AND intellectual virtue
                                                                        1. Anyone can achieve wisdom; it doesn't rely on social status, political power or intellectual power.
                                                                          1. Sophron: Moral hero = does good but not pure intentions and Moral saint = does good from pure intentions
                                                                            1. She rejected pride as a virtue.
                                                                          2. Anscombe
                                                                            1. First to again analyse human qualities as a key to ethical theory
                                                                              1. Rejected absolutist approaches as they require a God.
                                                                                1. Ethical progress comes from pursuing human flourishing (eudaimonia)
                                                                              2. The use of wealth
                                                                                1. How we respond to materialistic context is crucial in developing virtue.
                                                                                  1. Liberality and magnificence are needed.
                                                                                    1. If people and governments around the world adopted these virtues it would prevent world poverty and suffering.
                                                                                      1. Factors
                                                                                        1. Must be generous but not tainted by meanness or wastefulness
                                                                                          1. 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.
                                                                                            1. To allow total dependence would be wasteful but to ignore poverty would be mean.
                                                                                              1. A virtuous person/government would provide immediate short-term aid as well as encouraging independence.
                                                                                          2. Evaluation
                                                                                            1. Strengths
                                                                                              1. Although it is self-focused it's other regarding. Self-improvement builds a better community.
                                                                                                1. The virtuous person is the exemplar so it has guiding principles
                                                                                                  1. 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.
                                                                                                    1. Naturalistic system, not dependent on religion.
                                                                                                      1. Promotes lasting change
                                                                                                      2. Weaknesses
                                                                                                        1. Self-centred
                                                                                                          1. Imprecise and vague, more guidance is required.
                                                                                                            1. It's contradictory and subjective.
                                                                                                              1. It's too intellectual for everyone to understand + Aristotle said we don't all have the same ability to resist vice.
                                                                                                                1. Too individualistic
                                                                                                                  1. Too much dependence on the potential goodness of others. It's naïve.
                                                                                                                    1. Exhibits speciesism as it focuses on humanity as the supreme being (Peter Singer would take issue with this)
                                                                                                                  2. Comparison with deontological and teleological systems
                                                                                                                    1. Same
                                                                                                                      1. Idea of duty and doing the right thing.
                                                                                                                        1. Virtues could be moral absolutes
                                                                                                                          1. Mel Thompson see it as an extension of Natural Law
                                                                                                                            1. Contextual moral dilemmas like situation ethics/utilitarianism.
                                                                                                                            2. Different
                                                                                                                              1. Person-centred not rule-centred.
                                                                                                                                1. The virtues are very different to the rules in other systems.
                                                                                                                              2. Compatibility with religion
                                                                                                                                1. Compatible
                                                                                                                                  1. Stresses altruism (a concern for well-being of others), like religion does.
                                                                                                                                    1. Promotes responsibility of the individual to better themselves.
                                                                                                                                      1. Religious thinkers have developed the theory e.g. Aquinas
                                                                                                                                      2. Incompatible
                                                                                                                                        1. No rules could encourage an 'anything goes' society, not consistent with religion
                                                                                                                                          1. Won't appeal to traditional, conservative religious followers due to liberal and subjective aspects.
                                                                                                                                            1. Other ethical systems might be more attractive e.g. situation ethics.
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