Virtue Ethics Essay

Submitted By Janay2
Words: 663
Pages: 3

For some people the question is “What should I do?" or "How should I act?" Ethics is supposed to provide us with "moral principles" or universal rules that tell us what to do. Virtue ethics is teleological because it argues that we should practice being good, or virtuous people over time. Virtue ethics is therefore not deontological (like Kant’s ethics) and it is also not normative. It is known as aretaic ethics from the Greek word arête meaning excellence or virtue. Virtue ethics is not concerned with what we ought to do, but with what kind of person we should try to become. Aristotle argued that every action we perform is directed towards some purpose, that it tries to achieve something. He then argued that there are superior and subordinate aims. Subordinate aims are what we have to achieve first, before we achieve superior aims, for example, if you are hungry (which might be a superior aim) you need to make a sandwich to achieve that aim. Making the sandwich becomes a subordinate aim
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.