Moral principles like these focus primarily on people's actions and doings. We "apply" them by asking what these principles require of us in particular circumstances, for example when we are considering whether to lie or to commit suicide. We also apply them when we ask what they require of us as professionals, for example lawyers, doctors, or business people, or what they require of our social policies and institutions. According to "virtue ethics", there are certain ideals, such as excellence or dedication to the common good, toward which we should strive and which allow the full development of our humanity. These are discovered through thoughtful reflection on what we as human beings have the potential to become. "Virtues" are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to act in ways that develop this potential. They enable us to pursue the ideals we have adopted. Honesty, courage, compassion, generosity, fidelity, integrity, fairness, self-control, and prudence are all examples of virtues.
The purpose of ethics for Aristotle was to simply find the purpose of human life, once again demonstrating his emphasis on teleology. Ethics falls under the category of practical sciences, since its concern is not knowledge for its own sake but rather for the purpose of application. Aristotle first recognizes that happiness is the ultimate good, since all other goods are intermediate while happiness is final. We pursue other goods to achieve happiness, but happiness is valuable in itself. Teleology is the class of ethical theories that deems an act moral or immoral on the basis of its consequences.