Ruwen Ogien's Use Of Virtue Ethics As A Moral Theory

753 Words4 Pages
What determines how one behaves? Is it character, situation, both, or neither? Although this is not an easy question, social psychologist Stanley Milgram provides a possible answer through a series of experiments conducted from 1960 to 1963, to examine obedience to authority. While there is no agreed upon interpretation of Milgram’s results, philosopher Ruwen Ogien uses the experiment as grounds for criticizing virtue ethics as a moral theory. The purpose of this essay is not to offer an interpretation of Milgram’s results. The purpose is to articulate why I am not persuaded by Ogien’s use of the Milgram experiments to criticize virtue ethics.
The problem with Ogien’s argument is that he fails to correctly represent the moral theory. He
…show more content…
Ogien defines “character broadly speaking, [as] a certain way of acting or feeling that is consistent, that is, stable over time and unvarying from one situation to the next” (Ogien 123). For Aristotle, “virtue, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean…relative to us, this being determined by…that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine…and acquired by repetition” (Aristotle 124, 129). Mark Timmons, a moral philosopher, also makes a slight distinction between character and virtue by defining virtue as “(1) a relatively fixed trait of character (2) typically involving dispositions to think, feel, and act in certain ways in certain circumstance, and (3) is a primary basis for judging the overall moral goodness or worth of persons” (Timmons 212). Lastly, philosophers Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, define virtue in terms of “a trait of character that is socially valuable and a moral virtue [as] a trait of character that is morally valuable” (Beauchamp 31). Now, there are four reasons why I go through the ways in which philosophers have defined virtue. (1) To show that Ogien critiques virtue ethics without defining virtue at all. (2) To show that among philosophers (at least read for this week) there is commonality in defining virtue in some way or another as a fixed character. (3) Just because a person possesses a certain character trait that does not

More about Ruwen Ogien's Use Of Virtue Ethics As A Moral Theory

Open Document