‘ARISTOTLE’S VIRTUE ETHICS IS USELESS AS A MEANS OF MAKING ETHICAL DECISIONS.’

ASSESS THIS VIEW.

Agree:

  • The virtues valued by Aristotle are almost 2500 years old and are from an age of ‘master and servant’.
  • They are mainly masculine based virtues associated with the battlefield, such as courage.
  • Virtue Ethics does not provide answers to specific problems such as euthanasia, nor does it provide a list of good or bad actions or consider situations and outcomes.
  • Also it is not clear what we should do when values conflict and other theories provide clearer guidance e.g. Natural Law with its use of the Primary Precepts.

Disagree:

  • If you act virtuously you will do what is right also taking into account your needs and desires as well as those of society.
  • In recent years there have been a number of people who have appeared to have adopted a virtuously lifestyle such as Ghandi.
  • Virtue Ethics promotes a more ‘spiritual’ approach to ethics in that it asks you to stop and consider your motives, dispositions, feeling, etc. and to control your emotions.
  • Virtue Ethics is still taught and used within parts of the medical profession and the military as a means of making moral decisions.
  • MacIntyre, Foot, Anscombe have all suggested that while Aristotle’s virtues might be outdated they could be updated and be relative within different cultures, e.g. in some cultures, the man is the head of the family and the female obedience to men would be a virtue.
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