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[ INSTA Ethics ] : Aristotle and Virtue Ethics

 

 

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of philosophy within the Lyceum and the wider Aristotelian tradition. His writings cover many subjects including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics, meteorology, geology, and government.

Virtue Ethics.

  • Virtue ethics is a philosophy developed by Aristotle and other ancient Greeks. It is the quest to understand and live a life of moral character.
  • This character-based perspective on morality makes the supposition that we learn virtue via experience. A person builds an honorable and moral character through exercising virtues like honesty, bravery, justice, generosity, and so on. When presented with moral dilemmas, people are more likely to make the right decision if they practice virtue, according to Aristotle.
  • Aristotle explained that both virtues and vices are acquired by repetition. If we routinely overindulge a sweet tooth, we develop a vice, – gluttony. If we repeatedly allow others to serve themselves dinner before us, we develop a virtue – selflessness.
  • Virtue ethics suggests treating our character as a lifelong project, one that has the capacity to truly change who we are. The goal is not to form virtues that mean we act ethically without thinking, but to form virtues that help us see the world clearly and make better judgments as a result.
  • There are two practical principles that virtue ethics encourages us to use in ethical dilemmas. The first is called The Golden Mean. When we’re trying to work out what the virtuous thing to do in a particular situation is, look to what lies in the middle between two extreme forms of behavior. The mean will be the virtue, and the extremes at either end, vices.

 

Figure: Golden mean list of virtues as suggested by Aristotle.

  • There are two practical principles that virtue ethics encourages us to use in ethical dilemmas. The first is called The Golden Mean. When we’re trying to work out what the virtuous thing to do in a particular situation is, look to what lies in the middle between two extreme forms of behavior. The mean will be the virtue, and the extremes at either end, vices.
  • Virtue ethics helps us understand what it means to be a virtuous human being. And, it gives us a guide for living life without giving us specific rules for resolving ethical dilemmas.
  • Some argue virtue ethics is overly vague in guiding actions. They say its principles aren’t specific enough to help us overcome difficult ethical conundrums. Also, some people think virtue ethics breeds ‘moral narcissism’, where we are so obsessed with our own ethical character that we value it above anyone or anything else.