Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtue Ethics

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtue Ethics

Virtue ethics is one the three major theories of normative ethics. The two pioneers behind virtues ethics are Aristotle and Plato. Plato argued that being virtuous entails having a clear view of the form of the virtue. On the other hand, Aristotle rejected this position in favour of a naturalistic one. Virtues can be compared to skills and are acquired through proper upbringing.  Aristotle identified some virtues and they include: courage, temperance, wittiness, friendliness, modesty, righteous, indignation, truthfulness, patience, ambition, magnanimity, magnificence, and liberality (Adams 67). The cardinal vices are pride, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth and pride. This paper examines the disadvantages and advantages of the virtue ethics theory.

Aristotle believed that virtues are acquired through habituation. Virtues are subject to dispositions where a disposition is defined as a property that results only under certain conditions. This property is influenced by emotions which guide us to respond to the prevailing circumstances. According to Irwin (26) Aristotle also believed that virtues are mean. In this regard, virtuous actions lie between two alternative actions which are classified as excessive and deficient.  For instance, courage lies between cowardice and rashness while truthfulness lies between understatement and boastfulness.

Following these observations, it is right to say that in Aristotle’s view, virtues are dispositions that human beings should display depending on the prevailing circumstances. At the same time, just like other living things, the function of the human beings is to live according to reason (Rachels 59). The concept is what Aristotle referred to as the eudaimonia. The term also refers to a fulfilled life or happiness. It is the goal of each person to live a happy life and happiness can only derived from performing virtuous acts. However, in modern times, the concept of eudaimonia is now referred to as human flourishing. Unfortunately, most people define good life as life as full of pleasure, and self gratification.

Virtue ethics purposes to create good human beings rather than promote good acts or rules. In particular, it offers a natural and attractive account of moral motivation. Remember duty and utility are poor explanations of human interaction. This is because carrying out an action as a duty is completely impersonal. In addition, the sense of duty encourages human beings to behave in an inhuman manner as such the agents do not factor in the feelings of others.

When it comes to utility, behaviour that is based on utility does not foster relationships between human beings. Moreover, behaviour based on utility does not take into accounts the feelings of others, rather it emphasizes on an idealized form of happiness. In contrast, by avoiding a distinct formula, virtue ethics theory encourages human beings to become good people. Other advantages of virtue ethics are discussed below.

The ideal of impartiality

Human beings cannot be impartial especially when family members and friends are concerned. In many instances, the love of family members and friends becomes inescapable. On this account, virtue ethics does not emphasize on impartiality unlike other theories.

Unifying reason and emotions

Aristotle observed that human beings have the ability to reason and this ability sets them apart from the other living creatures. Indeed, human beings have the ability to recognize ends and thus can choose an action that will lead to a good end when faced with two options. At the same time, human beings have emotions that inform their judgements. It is not enough to follow rules and regulations irrespective of internal emotions and feelings. This position, which is held by the virtue theory, conflicts with Kant’s view that human beings should act from duty even if they are not disposed to do so. Following Kant’s view it is possible for human beings to choose the right actions, but they may not live good lives besides not developing virtuous characteristics.

Emphasizes moderation

Unlike other theories, the virtue ethics theory does not prescribe to rigid rules and principles of behaviour. Instead, it is based on moral virtues which is a mean between extremes. For instance pride is considered as an average midpoint between vanity and selling yourself short. At the same time, the theory resolves conflict between two absolute duties. For instance, when faced by a mad axe-man demanding his children, a virtuous agent will make a reasonable choice.

Besides displaying mod.............

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