Outline the main features of virtue ethics
Virtue ethics is a type of normative ethics and instead of looking at how you can work out the outcome of a situation, it looks at how you can become a better person. It is a teleological argument, meaning it focuses on the end result, which is becoming a more virtuous person.
To be virtuous you have to find a thing called the golden mean, which is the exact middle of two vices. The goal of virtue ethics is to reach eudemonia, and this is to be ‘flourishing.’ This is the end thing that all humans should seek to reach, although few do. The way to try and reach this is by practice, and Aristotle believes that virtuous acts should become habit, and by practising these habits is how we will eventually reach eudemonia. Aristotle believed that there are two types of virtue, intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtues include things like studying, and Aristotle believed these to be of high importance, and essential in developing our virtuous character. Intellectual virtues are also needed to exercise and train our moral virtues, and these include fortitude and prudence.
Aquinas added some more Christian ideas to virtue ethics, and added teleological virtues, which are faith, hope and charity. He wrote in his book summa theological ‘what we do is what we are.’
Elizabeth Anscombe believed that modern philosophy has become misguided, and that we should not necessarily associate good with an action, but more with the person doing it, and she agreed with Aristotle when he said that all people are good.
Alastair Macintyre says that modern ethics was morally bankrupt and that morality had suffered a catastrophe, and Phillipa Foot argues that although we cannot guarantee happiness, virtue ethics helps us to achieve the eudemonia by practising the moral virtues, and exercising our intellectual virtues.
Richard Taylor supports virtue ethics by saying that it does not involve...