Free Essay: Virtues Ethics Reading Exercise

Published: 2023-11-03
Free Essay: Virtues Ethics Reading Exercise
Essay type:  Reflective essays
Categories:  Philosophy Ethics Behavior
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 793 words
7 min read

Explain Aristotle's concept of virtue and explain a couple of examples of what virtue could look like (12.2). Explaining habitual action and the mean between two extremes is important here.

According to Aristotle, virtue is a balance of pain and pleasure: a mean. Virtue is the ability to control oneself when the heart desires the most. According to the philosopher, virtue is defined by habits through daily choices. As man chooses the same thing which is the perfect balance between pain and pleasure, they become accustomed to it and is defined as a virtue (Hutchinson, 86). For instance, a poor and hungry man could be walking down the street when a passerby drops a bunch of dollars. Given his situation, the man will be tempted to pick the money, pocket it, and lie he did not see it. However, finding the balance between pain and pleasure defines the virtue of the hungry man. By choosing to hide the money, he loses humanity and heeds to personal gain. By choosing to give it back and ask for something to eat, he finds the perfect balance between pleasure and pain. In his pain, he does not lose sight of humanity.

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Aristotle's definition of virtue also applies to people in leadership. Being in charge of a region or people equips the person with power, but what they do with it is a struggle of finding a mean. Public funds are at their disposal, and it is tempting to consider embezzlement. Finding balance through daily practice defines if they are virtuous or not. The leaders are faced with two extremes of using the money for personal enrichment versus serving the people, and finding the perfect balance is a virtue.

Explain why virtues are good and why everyone should have them

Virtues are built through habits. As Bernhard, and Fordyce (158), state, a person who tells the truth only when they have nothing to lose cannot be counted as honest. Virtues define the boundaries of human behavior by ensuring other people's practices do not affect humanity adversely. For instance, using the example of leaders above, if leaders were, to be honest in their dealings, the people they serve would benefit from the virtue. On the contrary, lack of honesty would people the peoples' lives miserable. By making honesty habitual, the leaders impact the people they serve positively and vice versa. Additionally, virtues create order. Even in the absence of written laws, humanity can live peacefully if guided and adhere to common virtues. If all humans were guided by the need to protect life, there would be no court cases on murder. Despite the absence of law, being guided by virtues would eliminate vices.

Explain the advantages of Virtue Ethics

According to Bernhard and Fordyce (160), virtue ethics are appealing to hear about. Humanity seems naturally motivated to do the right thing without hidden motives. Secondly, virtue ethics emphasize on impartiality. Treating all people the same way despite their backgrounds is virtuous and would create order in a society where the powerful are served best or receive favors. All humans achieving cohesion in society without considering differences would create an ideal world. For instance, institutions often state in their vision and mission statements that they seek to be inclusive and serve people impartially, but that does not always apply. The more people one knows in an organization, the faster they are served.

Explain the problems with Virtue Ethics

Although virtual ethics creates the illusion of an ideal world, the idea has some loopholes. Virtual ethics are incomplete. Some virtues do not have evidence of how they benefit the individual. Some virtue ethics are also contradicting. For instance, kindness and honesty could give an individual a hard time choosing one over the other. For example, if a married woman sees a counselor and tells them about an affair, and the husband later confesses that if he found out the wife was cheating on him, he would kill her. If the two see the counselor seek help on difficulties in their marriage caused by unfaithfulness, the counselor is trapped between honesty and kindness. The counselor could assume that the husband swore to kill in the moment of anger and thus reveal the truth to make handling the issue easier, but it is risky. While she wants to be kind to the woman by protecting her secret, she also wants to be honest with her husband and bring the dispute to an end. Virtual ethics, in this case, are contradicting, and are, in many similar cases.

Works Cited

Fabian, Bernhard, and David Fordyce. The elements of moral philosophy. Georg Olms Verlag, 1990.

Hutchinson, Douglas S. The virtues of Aristotle. Routledge, 2015.

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