10 May 2010
Virtue Ethics and Ethics of Care
Aristotle and Rita Manning both have different theories when it comes to ethics. Aristotle uses virtue ethics to answer questions about morality whereas Manning uses what is called ethics of caring to do the same thing. Virtue ethics claims people’s actions aim towards the highest good of happiness. From happiness, moral virtue stems from reasons governing the desires of the soul. Manning on the other hand believes that moral actions extend from people caring for one another on a personal level. By developing the ability to care for others, people become morally aware of how to act in certain situations. When the question of: “how ought I live my life?” is asked, Aristotle and Manning would approach the question with different factors in mind. The way in which each person responds to the question, would contain unique areas of excellence, as well as areas where the question would pose a challenge. Based on the workings of each person’s respective theories, both Aristotle and Rita Manning would answer the question of “how ought I live my life?” in different manners, but both theories will lead to a life of more morality. Aristotle claims “every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that which all things aim” (Aristotle 8). Virtue ethics claims that humans strive for good within their activities. The highest goods are considered ends in themselves because they are ultimate, complete, self-sufficient, and attainable by activity. The chief or ultimate good according to Aristotle is happiness because it embodies all of the qualities of the highest good and it is an end in itself. Everything else considered good only can lead to happiness, whereas happiness does not lead to anything greater. Humans have a greater sense of happiness and pleasure than animals because of the way the human soul is divided. The human soul has three different parts: the rational, desiderative, and vegetative states. While humans embody all three sections, plants only contain the vegetative and animals contain only the vegetative and desiderative. Aristotle therefore, claims that humans separate themselves from plants and animals because they embody all three sections including the rational part of the soul. The rational part of the soul allows human beings to govern the desiderative part of the soul, and it is from there that moral virtue stems. Moral virtue comes from humans using reason to control the impulses of the desiderative part of the soul. Aristotle goes onto break the idea of virtue down into two parts: moral virtue and intellectual virtue. Aristotle states “intellectual virtue owes both its birth and its growth to teaching, while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit” (Aristotle 23). People all have the capacity to be moral because they all learn intellectual virtues, but some people are not virtuous because they do not use moral virtue. Virtue is developed by practicing through one’s actions. People cannot develop moral virtues if they do not use them in their activities. Since there are so many different situations a human can display moral virtue within, Aristotle says humans have practical wisdom because there are no laws established that they can follow. People are supposed to analyze the situation they are in and shoot for a mean between the two extremes of the situation because “virtue is a kind of mean, since … it aims at what is intermediate” (Aristotle 29). Through virtue, Aristotle establishes three good states of character and three bad states of character. The virtuous state of character embodies someone who has correct reason, desires, and actions as a result of their reason and desires. A continent person has incorrect desires but because they have correct reason, they still perform the correct actions. On the opposite end, a person of vice has incorrect...