Report of Virtue Ethics and Animals

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Ye, Kening

Prompt #1

Rosalind Hursthouse is a renowned moral philosopher who champions virtue ethics, one of the three major approaches in normative philosophy. In contrast to deontology and consequentialism, virtue ethics is an agent-centered approach that answers the question of “what should I be?” while does not provide clear rule or ethical answers on why one should/should not act. (Guidry-Grimes, 1/31/2013) Virtue ethics empathizes the role of moral character embodied by the moral agent for assessing his/her ethical behavior and character. In other word, we think what would a virtuous moral agent will act under given circumstance, and he/she typically does what is virtuous and avoid what is vice. The principles of virtue ethics are the “v-rules”, namely thinking in terms of virtues and vices, as a virtue person “do what is compassionate, do not what is cruel.” Applying the “v-rules” is highly contextual and heavily based on specific circumstances, under which the moral agent should evaluate what are virtuous to act and avoid actions of vices. Most importantly, in virtue ethics, although virtues and vices are given many vocabulary or ways to describe, there is no rule that specify what the type actions belongs to virtues or vices. For example, compassion can be a virtue or a fault depending on specific scenario (Hurtshouse, 126). Therefore, it is important to recognize that determination of virtuous character and what action would deem virtuous is not always forthright and clear. (Hurtshouse, 127) Having established what virtue ethics is, Hursthouse argues that the concept of moral status is unnecessary and irrelevant for applied virtue ethics. Both deontology and consequentialism, two other branches of normative ethics, are heavily depended upon the moral status concept which essentially divides everything into two classes: things with moral status that are within our “circle of concern” and worthwhile of moral principles and things without moral...
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