Ethics and Moral Reasoning

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Aristotle's Virtue Ethics

Aristotle in his virtue ethics states that a virtuous individual is someone with ideal traits. These characteristic traits normally come from an individual’s innate tendency but should be cultivated. After they are cultivated, these character traits supposedly become stable in an individual. Moral consequentilaists and deontologists are normally concerned with universal doctrines that can be utilized in any situation that requires moral interpretation. Unlike these theorists, Aristotle’s virtue ethics are concerned with the general questions such as “what is a good life”, “what are proper social and family values”, and “how should one live” (Bejczy 32). Aristotle developed his virtue ethics based on three central principles; eudaimonia, ethics of care, and agent based theories. Eudaimonia stipulates that virtues can be seen in the way an individual flourishes; flourishing under this concept refers to one’s ability to perform their functions with distinct accuracy (Bejczy 33).

The distinct function of humans according to Aristotle is reasoning, and a worthy life is characterized by good reasoning. The agent based theory places emphasis on the fact that virtues are determined by common institutions people use to label traits in other people as admirable. According to Aristotle’s virtue ethics, a virtue like honesty does not necessarily refer to the tendency of people acting honestly, or the classification of the virtue as a desirable trait. Instead, Aristotle purports that the virtue of honesty is predisposed and entrenched in an individual (Bejczy 34). In virtue ethics, therefore, an individual cannot be labeled as honest since he is not cheating, or by observing the honesty in one’s dealings. In addi...

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... the majority, rights become the greatest good (Troyer 60).


Aristotle's virtue ethics argue that morality should be based on an individual’s ideal traits that are internalized as opposed to observing outward actions or the consequence of his/her behavior. Kant on the contrary argues that for an individual to be considered morally upright, then his/her actions should be based on duty. Mills maintains that if an action provides long-term pleasures to the majority, then it is morally upright.

Works Cited

Bejczy, Istvan. Virtue ethics in the middle Ages: Commentaries on Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics", 1200 - 1500. Leiden: Brill, 2008. Print.

Troyer, John. The Classical Utilitarians Bentham and Mill. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishers, 2003. Print.

Wike, Victoria S. Kant on Happiness in Ethics. Albany: Albany State University Press, 1994. Print.
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