To what extent do modern versions of V.E address the weaknesses of Aristotle's teaching on virtue?

Lana Buckland
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Mind Map on To what extent do modern versions of V.E address the weaknesses of Aristotle's teaching on virtue?, created by Lana Buckland on 02/12/2014.

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Lana Buckland
Created by Lana Buckland over 5 years ago
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To what extent do modern versions of V.E address the weaknesses of Aristotle's teaching on virtue?
1 1) explain virtue ethics from Aristotle and more modern approaches
1.1 could contrast virtue ethics with another ethical theory that you feel may give a better outcome
1.1.1 rejected action-based ethics. He said that an action may seem good but have a bad motive - this is the exact opposite of the utilitarian view, which argues that motive is irrelevant.
1.1.1.1 Utilitarians and deontologists believe the right behaviour comes BEFORE right behaviour, Aristotle believed you have to have the right character in order to choose the right action
1.2 argued we can learn to be virtuous by following virtuous people e.g. Jesus, Gandhi or Sophie ;)
1.3 Virtue ethics doesn't question how we act but who we are as people. It is agent-centred and seeks to find goodness by enriching the individual
1.4 Aristotle’s idea of Virtue Ethics was influenced by his belief that all things and all humans have a purpose (a telos).
1.4.1 our purpose is to reach the ultimate happiness we all aim for - eudaimonia. In order to reach eudaimonia, Aristotle stated, we must be virtuous people.
2 2) Explain the concept of eudaimonia, the Golden Mean and the difference between the intellectual and the moral virtues
2.1 Assess whether eudaimonia is important to humanity.
2.1.1 According to Aristole reaching eudaimonia is important to humanity because it enables a healthy society as virtues are needed for it, which in turn is good for humanity.
2.2 A ‘’virtue’’ are qualities that lead to a good life e.g. courage and honesty. Aristotle explains for a person to adopt these qualities into their own lives is to maximise their potential to achieve a happy life and he goes on to explain Eudaimonia as being a quality of this happiness.
2.3 According to Aristotle,there are two types of virtue
2.3.1 Intellectual virtues: things which can be taught and developed through teaching e.g wisdom or restraint
2.3.2 Moral virtues: qualities of character - they can't be "taught" and come through habit and experience
2.3.2.1 Moral virtues are exemplified by courage, temperance, and liberality - someone may find it difficult to become couragous if they have not aquired the habit of acting couragously
2.3.3 These virtues work together, and it would not be enough to have one of these alone. Temperance and courage are moral virtues - we get into the habit of acting bravely. We learn self-control by practicing restraint.
2.4 The Golden Mean
2.4.1 In terms of working out a virtue, Aristotle highlighted the importance of finding a "golden mean" in qualities of character
2.4.1.1 All virtues have 2 vices or extremes
2.4.1.1.1 vice of deficiency e.g. cowardice
2.4.1.1.1.1 GOLDEN MEAN (virtue) - bravery
2.4.1.1.2 vice of excess e.g. foolishness
2.4.1.1.3 In the middle lies VIRTUE
2.4.1.1.4 Having either vices do not benefit society
2.4.1.1.4.1 Criticism: surely some jobs require certain vices? Vices lead us to have more interesting people and encourages debate. If we all stick to certain virtues, won't we all be the same?
3 3) Explain why virtue ethics was revived in the 20th century, and explain the ideas of scholars such as Anscombe, Foot, MacIntyre, Hursthouse, Slote, etc.
3.1 revival is frequently traced to Anscombe
3.1.1 argues that duty-based conceptions of morality are incoherent because they are based on the idea of a law but without a lawgiver. She said "How can there be any moral laws if there is no God?"
3.1.1.1 recommends a return to the virtue ethical theories of the ancients, particularly Aristotle which ground morality in eudaimonia
3.1.2 said human flourishing doesn't require a god
3.1.3 Argues that ethical codes which lay a stress on moral absolutes and laws are useless in a society which has effectively abandoned God
3.2 Wisdom is a virtue on both intellectual and moral grounds
3.2.1 Contrary to Aristotle, Foot believes wisdom is achievable by anyone who wants to (Aristotle claims that a person who does not have a formal education can never reach true morality)
3.2.1.1 Foot believes – against Aristotle – that wisdom does not depend on social status, political power, or intellectual power
3.2.1.1.1 Foot argues against Aristotle's idea that there should never be a moral dilemma if you are virtuous and that it is more moral if a person overcomes a dilemma to be virtuous
3.2.1.1.1.1 HOWEVER. Foot counters a popular criticism that virtues may be used to a bad end (that isn't eudaimonia) e.g. bravery to fight for Hitler.
3.2.1.1.1.1.1 Foot stated that this is wrong seeing as a virtue is only virtuous if used to the right end
3.2.1.1.1.1.1.1 Foot has been critcised for assuming all people work towards similar goals when this is simply not true.
3.2.1.2 Foot argued with Aristotle's view that you can only be virtuous if you develop and want to be, saying that, like Kant, doing something out of duty increases the moral worth of the act
3.3 In modern times, scholars have criticised Aristotle's Virtue ethics for being too relative, vague and self-centered. Many modern thinkers have written their own theories of virtue ethics to try and address some of the issues
4 4) discuss the fact that virtues can seem to be culturally relative and so virtue ethics is difficult to apply to ethical dilemmas
4.1 discuss if virtue ethics is actually worth considering to address issues in today’s world.
4.1.1 Plato would agree because being virtuous allows you to possess traits to better yourself and help improve society. The most important virtue nowadays is reason which we need in today's world.
4.2 Hursthouse addressed the criticism that virtue ethics does not provide moral guidance in dilemmas
4.2.1 Although virtue ethics doesn't explain how a person should or would act, it does explain how a virtuous person would think about the moral dilemma
4.2.1.1 Virtues assist practical reasoning, enabling us to become better and hence, respond to moral dilemmas in a virtuous way

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