Philosophy Essay Example: Aristotle vs. Virginia Held

Published: 2022-05-25
Philosophy Essay Example: Aristotle vs. Virginia Held
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Philosophy Ethics
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1282 words
11 min read

In human societies, there have been debates on the issue of ethics. To further the discourse on morality, various philosophical assertions have been provided to further give insight into the subject matter (Rutherford 39). Importantly, for example, the discourse has been on the concept of virtue ethics, postulated by Aristotle, and ethics of care by Virginia Held. For instance, concerning Aristotle, the discussion has been on whether human beings are supposed to behave under social expectations or whether they should have the freedom to make personal choices. Admittedly, the philosophies of the two individuals tackle the aspect of ethics and human behavior in different ways that can be compared and contrasted in different perspectives. Against this background, it can be argued that the moral bearings that Aristotle and Held postulate can help understand ethics in various contexts.

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To begin, Aristotle's model of virtue ethics depends on social expectations while also leaving room for autonomy. To support the assertion, the philosopher stated that human beings should enjoy life; however, they should avoid selfishness (Raftari 717). In this regard, it can be argued that Aristotle supports the idea of people living according to social expectations. Innately, this is because most of the human societies espouse the value of selflessness.

The support for functional decision-making processes that Aristotle taught can be used to lend credence to the idea that ethical behaviors depend on social beliefs. Ideally, this can be by the realism that practical decision-making procedures consider various elements (Raftari 718). Among them is the impact that resolutions made by individuals can have on other people in their societies. Within this regard, therefore, Aristotle's theory of virtue supports the idea of ethical practices being influenced by societal expectations.

Besides, Aristotle accentuated that the practicality of virtues demands that people take personal steps towards discovering what is ethical. As supported in Raftari (718), the philosopher underscored the need for individuals to not only know the purpose of morality but also be persons of good morals. Against this framework, philosophical views entail the understanding that human beings need to make practical and individual effort towards the realization of their moral standings (Raftari 716). Innately, the backing for such an endeavor can be interpreted to mean that people should disengage from some of the conventional ways that act as barriers in the quest for appreciation of morality.

Within the same context, Aristotle supported autonomy when he called for individuals to make personal ethical decisions based on prevailing circumstances. For perception, one of the leading claims that Aristotle established links to the encouragement of people to study dominant situations in their environments to generate proper ethical resolutions (Raftari 715). In this way, it can be deduced that the theorist was against the application of various laws in human societies when people make judgments on moral issues.

Lastly, the logician observed that true happiness should be self-triggered as opposed to being motivated by different social, political, and economic factors. By and far, Aristotle emphasized the need for human beings to lead a happy life that is devoid of limiting elements that exist in their communities (Raftari 715). For illustration, he supposed that the principal aim in human life is the ability to live happily. Therefore, individuals need to avoid hurdles to the achievement of such an important goal. Tellingly, this avoidance entails disregard to some public expectations in societies that may act as barriers to happy living.

In the same vein, similarities can be drawn from Virginia Held's ethics of care and Aristotle's virtue ethics. For example, the two conceptualize human beings as rational creatures. On his part, Aristotle postulates that people have an innate ability to come up with personal decisions in a sensible manner (Raftari 716). Likewise, Held believes that persons are not only reasonable in their behaviors but are also interdependent (Held 25). She, therefore, urges individuals to come up with rational resolutions that help spread morality in the world.

However, there are also some differences that are inherent in the philosophical standpoints of the two individuals. For example, while Aristotle mentioned critical thinking as the building block for ethical life, Held asserts that value emotions should be taken as the primary trigger for having an ethical care in human societies (Held 17). In this way, the two philosophers fail to agree on the main reason that should inform morality in the lives of human beings.

The other form of difference is evidenced in what the two critical thinkers regard as the most important moral value. For Aristotle, the central moral rule for human beings should be the ability to live a life of contentment (Raftari 715). As already mentioned, Aristotle believes that an ethical life entails having happiness. On the contrary, Held's care ethics emphasizes all types of moral rules because they are also equal (Held 23). She believes that for care to be given to the needy, all ethical guidelines need to be adhered to by all people.

The other difference lies in whether people should put more emphasis on their lives or other people's lives. From the discourse on the virtue ethics, the stress that Aristotle placed on the necessity for people to ensure that they live happily indicates that he gives prominence to personal life. However, ethics of care by Held holds the opinion that individuals should strive to take care of other people more than they care for themselves (Held 12). In her view, there is the most significant moral significance when human beings show responsibility towards other people under their care.

Additionally, the other way in which Virginia Held and Aristotle help in the understanding of how morality relates to apparent biases in the duo. In particular, there is the question of the way in which Virginia Held would critique Aristotle for his a "male bias." Inherently, critics have labeled the traditional ethical theories held by the likes of Aristotle as being biased against the female gender. The reason behind this includes the viewpoint that conventional models for ethics stood for status quo that supported machismo (Rutherford 43). In this way, it can be argued that Held would criticize Aristotle for his support for the traditional moral bearings that often supported the males in his society at the expense of the females. In the face of this criticism, perhaps Aristotle would have argued that his views at that time were in tandem with commonly believed values of the hi society that did not give women equal treatment as the males.

The last framework is the evaluation of these theories. Based on the discourse on the two theories of ethics, it seems that Held's moral of care is more convincing. Reasonably, this is because it emphasizes the morality by taking care of the needy in the society, unlike Aristotle's model that is depicted as putting stress on the self. Additionally, it is critical of the inherent discrimination based on gender that is arguably in traditional theories of ethics.

To conclude, it can be argued that the moral bearings that Aristotle and Held postulate can help in the understanding of ethics in various contexts. To begin, Aristotle's model of virtue ethics depends only upon social expectations, while also leaving room for autonomy. In essence, similarities can be drawn from Virginia Held's ethics of care and Aristotle's virtue ethics. However, there are also some differences that are inherent in the philosophical standpoints. The last part entails their persuasiveness.

Works Cited

Held, V. "The Ethics of Care as Moral Theory." The Ethics of Care, 2014, pp. 9-28, doi:10.1093/0195180992.003.0002.

Raftari, H. "Happiness in View of Aristotle and Avicenna." International Journal of Social Science and Humanity, vol. 5, no. 8, 2015, pp. 714-719, doi:10.7763/ijssh.2015.v5.545.

Rutherford, D. "The Start of the Criticism: Aristotle." Suspicions of Markets, 2016, pp. 39-62, doi:10.1007/978-3-319-40808-8_3.

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