Virtue Ethics

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“Critically evaluate the view that ethics should be more concerned with who you are than what you do.”

Virtue Ethics and the view that ethics should be wholly concerned with a person’s attributes based on the holistic theory of Aristotle and his Golden Mean, is a newly accepted theory, which looks at a person’s virtues and not their actions. It is a view that directly contrasts with the theories of Kant and Bentham, which focus on actions as opposed to the actual person making those actions. Although the deontological nature of Kant’s theory does partially contradict the teleological constitution of Bentham’s theory, they both focus on the moral decision that a person chooses to make and these theories both clash with Virtue Ethics, in respect that Virtue Ethics looks at why and what made the person make that decision. Whilst it is important to focus on the person behind the action, a more consequentialist view of ethics is a better functioning theory in today’s society due to the emphasis placed on the result of actions and the many cultures in the world, where virtuous acts would be difficult to define. In this essay, I will explore these contrasting ethical positions to prove that ethics should be more concerned with what you do than who you are.

Aristotle’s theory is ultimately based on the idea of reaching eudaimonia, and this was something which, unlike the theories of Bentham and Mill, was sought for itself rather than as a means to some other end. The virtues that lead to this “happiness” are described by Aristotle to be like a habit, they should be learnt and acquired - making one a better person, meaning that they will make the correct moral decisions. Using “ Virtue Ethics” as an approach to life is taken up by many parents across the globe, as they act to make the child become a better person. However, one must question whether Virtue Ethics is a logical means of moral explanation as perhaps just because a person has many desirable virtues, it...
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