Friday, July 15, 2016

Virtue Ethics and the Definition of Virtue

From guest blogger, Tessa.

For this week’s blog post, I wanted to touch on Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics. When beginning to learn about this topic, everything sounded reasonable to me. For example, we should ask ourselves “what kind of person should I be?” instead of asking ourselves “what should I do?”. Our goal is to do what the ‘virtuous person’ would do. For example, an action is right if it is what would be done by someone of virtue. This sounds like realistic moral reasoning, although how do we define a virtuous person? The readings define a virtuous person as simply someone who sets a fine example and serves as a role model for the rest of us (also called a moral exemplar). Moreover, a virtuous act is between two vicious existences. One virtuous characteristic to have would be bravery, rather than being a coward or foolhardy.

While this seemed like a reasonable idea at first, I now have many more questions. What if people have a different definition of what ‘bravery’ is? What happens when different cultures value different virtues? Do we take cultures into consideration? What about conflicting virtues- someone may act with many virtues, but lack in one area- are they someone we should follow? These are just a few of the immediate concerns that came to mind during class. Believers say that you learn who is virtuous over time. It takes practice and learning from your mistakes to be able to find a real virtuous person.

Lastly, we briefly discussed people who may never have the chance of becoming virtuous. Some people may be doomed, because of their upbringing or their past/current role models. It really rubs me the wrong way that some people have absolutely no chance in becoming virtuous, so I may hone in on this for my paper.

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