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Chapter 4: Virtue Ethics Summary

Chapter 4 of the “Ethics, Theory and Practices” book focuses around the term Virtue Ethics. Virtue Ethics is a moral theory that had its beginnings with Aristotle and which is based not upon consequences, feelings, or rules, but upon human beings developing a moral or virtuous character by doing what an ideal good or virtuous person would do. Virtue is defined as the quality of moral excellence, righteousness, and responsibility or other exemplary qualities considered meritorious.

Virtue ethic derives from Aristotle’s Nicomachean ethics which was named after his son (Nicomachus). Such ethics are teleological in character or aim toward some end or purpose. Aristotole begins with the moral judgments of reasonable and virtuous human beings and then formulates general principles, as opposed to the nonconsequentialists –Devine Command theorists, Kant and Ross-who begin with abstract ethical principles. Virtue is a mean, relative to us, between the two extremes of excess and deficiency. In the feeling of shame, for example modesty is the mean between the excess of bashfulness and the defect of shamelessness.

The Chinese term de, virtue, is the inherent power or tendency to affect others in a positive, dramatic, and powerful way for good. All Confucian virtues are carried out within the context of five cardinal relationships that are all governed by the practice of shu, “reciprocity.” Idealist and realist conceptions of connectionism: Mengzi or Mencius held that human beings have a natural disposition towards goodness, and virtue is cultivated, metaphorically, as the watering of sprouts. Xunzi taught that humans are not naturally disposed toward goodness, but human nature is evil and must be overcome in the manner one straightens crooked wood or sharpens metal on a the Confucian Role of Ethics, Xiao, family reverence or family feeling, is the root of consummate conduct. Confucian role of ethics is a new type of ethical...
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