Virtue Ethics Essay

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Virtue ethics is able to provide concrete ethical guidance to doctors because the theory is able to point doctors to either a single right solution or a set of right solutions. To show how virtue ethics is able to provide such guidance, I will elaborate upon particular aspects such as the theory’s focus on the individual and attention to human emotions and motivations that make the theory particularly conducive in guiding medical dilemmas.
Before examining an example of virtue ethics’ role in medicine, I will briefly describe what the theory entails. Virtue ethics focuses on the virtues, or inherent character traits, of the individual. A virtuous agent acts virtuously because they value a certain virtue. For example, an honest person’s reasoning and actions would reflect his/her value of honesty. Under virtue ethics, an action is right if and only if it is what a virtuous agent would characteristically do in the circumstances (Hursthouse 647). Expanding upon this idea, a virtuous agent is one who has and exercises virtues, where virtues, as mentioned above, are inherent dispositions to act in certain ways.
One facet of virtue ethics is therefore, the focus on the individual. Because virtue ethics permits this focus, we can also look at human qualities such as motivation and emotion of the people in question as opposed to theories like consequentialism and deontology, which focus on actions and rules primarily. Many medical moral dilemmas involve both doctor and patient and virtue ethics is valuable in looking at the human qualities of each party. Finally, I believe that human qualities like motivation and emotion are eminent and influential in medical decision-making, and can be examined through virtue ethics.
In my first exam...

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...nt and trustworthiness. Thus, while motivation and emotion might be fiery, the virtues they influence are sound, particularly when multiple virtues are juxtaposed.
My argument is that virtue ethics does provide ethical guidance for doctors without any indication of whether this theory is superior to others. Virtue ethics recognizes the human qualities of motivation and emotion and considers their importance in a doctor’s moral perception and characteristic disposition. This consideration for such qualities allows for the individual assessment of different situations. From these qualities, doctors can determine what virtues are applicable. Finally, a virtuous doctor would consider such virtues and make a decision based on what a virtuous doctor would characteristically do in the situation. Therefore, virtue ethics can and does provide ethical guidance for doctors.
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