The virtue ethics approach is a theory that suggests that people are judged via their character, not specific actions. An individual who has developed good character traits (virtues) is judged as a morally good person. An individual who has developed bad character traits (vices) is judged as a morally bad person. Most of us have a mixture or virtues and vices. There are many pros and cons linked to this approach. The pros include
a. Emphasis on pleasure and emotion – it is good that we should enjoy acting virtuously
b. Moral education – being moral is a developmental process
c. Consideration of life as a whole – “One swallow does not make a spring” (Aristotle, 1976)
d. No decision procedure – moral decision making is too complicated to have a single criterion for decision
The Cons are:
a. It Offers no solution to specific moral dilemmas
b. Not everyone has the equal opportunity to develop morally – do we judge them the same?
c. Many non-virtuous people live happy lives, many virtuous people are miserable
d. Cultural relativism – whose virtues are best?
e. We recognise that some non-virtuous people are useful in our society; life would be dull without them
2. What are the strengths of using a virtue ethics approach to resolve your case study?
One of the desirability of virtue ethics is the elasticity to measure each situation independently, searching for action guidance in bearing in mind what a naturally virtuous person would do. This would be clarified and informed by the pertinent facts and personal ethical sensitivities of that situation. This permits and heartens creative resolutions to very difficult problems, which may be harder to disc...
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...help them make important decisions to help save lives of people.
The virtue ethics approach differs with other frameworks in that; it is not an ethical theory in the same way that Utilitarianism or Kantianism are, It is not so much a guide for moral decision-making, more a description of the moral life. Theories such as Utilitarianism and Kantianism address the question “How should I act?” – Virtue Theory addresses the questions “How should I live my life?”, and “What kind of person should I be?”It is interested in the whole person, not just their actions.
Aristotle (1976). Ethics (revised edition). Translated by J.A.K. Thomson. Middlesex: Penguin Books, page 104
Rachels, J & Rachels, S (2007). The Elements of Moral Philosophy. (Fifth Ed.)
McGraw Hill: Boston.
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