• Submitted By: Rose-Ziana
  • Date Submitted: 03/26/2014 9:12 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 4837
  • Page: 20


Virtue ethics describes the character of a moral agent as a driving force for ethical behaviour, rather than rules ( deontology ) or consequentialism, which derives rightness or wrongness from the outcome of the act itself rather than character. The difference between these three approaches to morality tends to lie more in the way moral dilemmas are approached than in the moral conclusions reached. For example, a consequentialist may argue that lying is wrong because of the negative consequences produced by lying though a consequentiality may allow that certain foreseeable consequences might make lying acceptable. A deontologist might argue that lying is always wrong, regardless of any potential "good" that might come from lying. A virtue ethicist, however, would focus less on lying in any particular instance and instead consider what a decision to tell a lie or not tell a lie said about one's character and moral behaviour. As such, lying would be made in a case-by-case basis that would be based on factors such as personal benefit, group benefit, and intentions ( as to whether they are benevolent or malevolent ).

Although concern for virtue appears in several philosophical traditions, in the West the roots of the tradition lie in the work of Plato and Aristotle, and even today the tradition’s key concepts derive from ancient Greek philosophy. These concepts include arete ( excellence or virtue ), phronesis  (practical or moral wisdom ), andeudaimonia ( flourishing ). In the West virtue ethics was the prevailing approach to ethical thinking in the ancient and medieval periods. The tradition suffered an eclipse during the early modern period, as Aristotelians fell out of favour in the West. Virtue theory returned to prominence in Western philosophical thought in the 20th century, and is today one of the three dominant approaches to normative theories ( the other two being deontology and consequentilism ). Virtue theory is not...

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