A right act is the action a virtuous person would do in the same circumstances. Virtue ethics is person rather than action based: it looks at the virtue or moral character of the person carrying out an action, rather than at ethical duties and rules, or the consequences of particular actions.
Virtue ethics not only deals with the rightness or wrongness of individual actions, it provides guidance as to the sort of characteristics and behaviours a good person will seek to achieve.
In that way, virtue ethics is concerned with the whole of a person's life, rather than particular episodes or actions.
A good person is someone who lives virtuously - who possesses and lives the virtues. It's a useful theory since human beings are often more interested in assessing the character of another person than they are in assessing the goodness or badness of a particular action.
This suggests that the way to build a good society is to help its members to be good people, rather than to use laws and punishments to prevent or deter bad actions.
But it wouldn't be helpful if a person had to be a saint to count as virtuous. For virtue theory to be really useful it needs to suggest only a minimum set of characteristics that a person needs to possess in order to be regarded as virtuous.
...being virtuous is more than having a particular habit of acting, e.g. generosity. Rather, it means having a fundamental set of related virtues that enable a person to live and act morally well. James F Keenan, Proposing Cardinal Virtues, Theological Studies, 1995 Principles
Virtue ethics teaches:
An action is only right if it is an action that a virtuous person would carry out in the same circumstances. A virtuous person is a person who acts virtuously
A person acts virtuously if they "possess and live the virtues" A virtue is a moral characteristic that a person needs to live well. Most virtue theorists would also insist that the...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document