Essay On Character And Character

1014 Words5 Pages
Ethics involves interaction between ourselves and with the world around us. How we should comport ourselves towards others and our surroundings (Kohák, 2000). For ethics to decide what is a morally just way to be, think, and behave, it is helpful to break up the human experience in to logically defined sections. There are three prominent components of the person studied in ethics which provide insight to how ethical behaviour is devised - character, knowledge, and action. These three ideas can each be associated with three schools of ethics - character with virtue ethics, knowledge with deontology, and acting with utilitarianism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013). This is a complex and dynamic relationship which ultimately helps…show more content…
Using the language of virtue ethics, character can be seen as the unity or sum of virtue in the person (Hursthouse, 2007) and manifests itself in relationships with others and our surroundings. Virtuous character traits must be learned from a young age or gained through moral training, as opposed to personality traits which can be acquired at will. Regarding this, Hursthouse (2007) states that
“You can’t just decide to have a virtue; virtuous character traits cannot be acquired theoretically by attending lectures or reading books or articles and just deciding to be that way. But they can be acquired through moral habituation or training, beginning in childhood and continued through self-improvement.” (p. 164)

Hursthouse also clarifies how knowledge applies to character, and can indeed be a way to instil virtue when practised with young children. She does this using a proposed new virtue, that of wonder, and the Aristotelian concept of a being’s telos - the distinctive purpose that defines each being’s fundamental nature (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013). Hursthouse
…show more content…
Acting can be described as behaviour stemming from character and knowledge, and hence, fits in neatly with how ethics was defined by Kohák at the beginning of this essay i.e. how we comport ourselves towards others and our surroundings. In terms of virtue ethics, moral character in addition to practical wisdom (the wherewithal to exercise virtuous behaviour in a meaningful way) will amount to appropriate ethical behaviour or action. Conversely, a morally flawed character with unsound knowledge will result in incorrect
Open Document