Explain the theory of Virtue Ethics

Topics: Virtue, Ethics, Virtue ethics Pages: 3 (1015 words) Published: March 31, 2004
Aristotle originally introduced virtue Ethics to society in ancient Greek times. Virtue Ethics tells us that we should look at the character of the person instead of the actions or duties a person performs. Instead of concentrating on what is the right thing to do, virtue ethics asks how you can be a better person. Aristotle claims that leading a virtuous life is easy, and those who do, do so to be happy. Happiness is the ultimate goal for everyone in life.

To become a better person, you must practice virtuous acts regularly. After a while, these acts will become routine and so the virtuous acts will be nothing more than everyday life and the person a virtuous person. Aristotle said that although virtues should become a habit we must never forget that we behave in such a way because it is right. For example, if a singer practices singing everyday, they will become better at it and used to doing it. This is the same as people who practice their virtues and soon automatically act in the right way, by practicing our skills we improve them, becoming happier. Virtues should not be an effort, but simply a part of everyone's personality. Aristotle says that virtue is something that we acquire and are not just born with, people are not inherently good or bad, but become good or bad according to the habits they develop.

Aristotle said that a virtue was a 'Golden Mean' in between to vices. These 'Vices' are two extremes of a scale at opposite ends, one of excess and one of deficiency. For example the vices would be shamelessness and shyness, and the virtue modesty. Another example of this would be rudeness and a sense of humour as the two vices and the virtue as wittiness. Such virtues must be cultivated, we must learn when to use certain virtues and to what extent, for example we must not ever use humour in excess to act like a fool, but at the same time we must also not pass into rudeness.

Two philosophers, Anscombe and MacIntyre say that there has been a...
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