Virtue Ethics

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Virtue Ethics: Character-Based Virtues

Aristotle and Plato

Virtue ethics is grounded in “character traits”. We all have by nature the potential to be moral persons, but we need to practice the virtues, to cultivate them.

Ex. a medical doctor should cultivate virtues such as: compassion, discernment, trustworthiness, integrity, benevolence and non-malevolence

Kinds of virtues:
1) intellectual (wisdom, understanding etc)
2) moral (temperance, patience, courage etc)

An individual is moral not because of his/her intellectual activities, but because of his/her feelings and actions.

We need to practice virtues – ex. people become generous by giving

We must decide: what is the “golden mean” from our individual perspective (ex. coward – courageous – hero)?

The virtuous person must enjoy being virtuous (ex. not like the one who avoids stealing because of fear of punishment). Thus, virtue becomes its own reward. It must be performed for itself.

Virtue ethics focuses on the type of person we ought to be, not on specific actions that should be taken. It is grounded in good character, motives, and core values. The possessor of good character is and acts moral.

Virtue Ethics and Stakeholder Analysis

Deontology is based on rules

Utilitarianism is based on consequences

Virtue ethics is based on character and motives

It examines the motives and character of stakeholders – to see: what are the motivations of their strategies, actions, and outcomes?

Regarding the corporate scandals: virtue ethics explains the motives of some CEOs actions – their greed, extravagant habits, irrational thinking, and egotistical character traits

Difficulties

- a virtuous person may occasionally act horrible
- character traits change; if we don’t practice them, we loose them - it emphasizes long-term characteristics – but this has the risk of overlooking particular lies or acts of selfishness on the grounds that such...
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