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What is Virtue Ethics?

Talking about ethics domain, the problem of “proper being” and “right acting” is always placed at the center of discussion. Contemporary western philosophy witnessed numerous approaches to ethics, however, five of them are reasonably recognized as the main ones. Dealing with the list of them, there is one that stand out from the entire list and known for the unique views on “right being” principles and perspectives. In this paper, we’ll try to outline the general meaning of “Virtue ethics” study.

According to widely adapted definition “Virtue ethics” is a kind of philosophical study, which states that character of a moral agent is a driving force for ethical behavior, rather than rules, consequences, or social context. Previously, it was mentioned that virtue approach to ethics is different from others. This point is based on study’s potential ability to make moral agents free from the toughest decision making – “In what way should I act to be moral?”. The point is pretty simple here in fact. Virtue theorists state that ethics should notbe focused on actions or their consequences. The main “target” is character of moral agent. By developing character’s good traits, we give him/her the base, main drivers of decisions making in future. At the same time, virtue ethics advocates proclaim that braking character’s bad traits (vices) is not less important to be moral in actions. With own good traits exercising and improving, moral agent obtains the main “motives” for future behavior. Theoretically, the virtue ethics approach is beneficial in comparison to others with its free controversies meaning. In contrast to it, Kant’s duty study indirectly provides conflict between rules and wants, Utilitarianism involves sometimes impossible calculation of action’s consequences. The virtue ethics makes us free from all these difficulties, claiming that person of good traits acts morally, whatever his/her decisions are.

To give some examples of virtue ethics behavior, there is no need to invent a wheel. Let’s remind numerous charity campaigns and millions of donations made by people to help in fight with serious diseases or in the name of some other noble goal. This example can be perceived as a display of generosity virtue. On the other hand, we can imagine a fireman, who risks own life to get out from fire some old lady. Clear manifestation of courage! At last, let’s draw a picture of senior state official, who (even if it is possible to stay unnoticed) will refuse to exercise own authorities and connections to get his criminal son rid from legal liability. The virtue of justice would be notable in such case. Obviously, talking about provided examples we can dispute about the real drivers of conducted actions. However, considering the message of Virtue ethics, all of them are useful to show how good character’s traits affects decisions of moral agents.

It should to be emphasized that Virtue approach to ethics witnessed several problems about its proving. The first of its cons arguments is a question towards the volume of good traits that should be developed in person, and what of traits should be recognized those in fact. A little reference, most of theory’s advocates reference to Ancient Greek philosopher Plato outlined the next list of them: wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. At second, there is no prove that individual with proper traits always acts morally. In addition, there is no support that his/her moral actions would be motivated by inherent virtues, rather that wanted consequence, duty or own ethical egoism.