Virtue Ethics

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Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA ・1 Sources

Since the advent of philosophy, academic research into ethics has been a part of our lives. It is notable for being mainly concerned with the moral complexity of human behavior, motives, and decisions. Specifically, this steadfast commitment to ethics has opened up new avenues for reasoning and contemplation of human reality, assisting us in establishing a perceptive, relevant, and vital structure for explaining contentious issues at all levels of society (Graham 12). Even though there hasn't been a grand theory to explain ethics, the contemporary problems that pose metaphysical inquiries in this regard are whether ethics encompasses more than human emotional expressions. Ethical assumptions have tried to explain the origin of ethics and its practicability in the day-to-day human interaction, choices, and actions, by having a definite point of departure. In this regard, this paper looks at the virtue ethics, relative to utilitarian and Kantian theories of ethics. Our personal and emotional involvement is essential when making morally permissible decisions. Conversely, social contract, viewed from an ethical perspective, can turn out to be an instance of moral relativism.

According to Aristotelian virtue ethics, we are rational, and we gravitate towards habituation. Imagine a person who always knows how to act in a desperate situation, can gracefully deliver thoughts, confident without being arrogant and generous. We can think of this kind of person as rare and unnatural, but Aristotle poses that we should aspire to be this kind of individual (Carr and Steutel 87). His virtue theory is not based on telling a person what to do. There are no categorical imperatives or principles of utility to guide man to an absolute moral end; preferably, it is about character. Here, morality is not based on telling people to act in a certain principled way but to allow them to focus on being competent individuals, to enable proper actions effortlessly fall their way. As such, it reflects the old assumption that humans have a fixed nature – an essence- and that the way we flourish is by adhering to that particular environment. Personal involvement plays a significant role in virtue ethics. Morality has no playbook, neither does it have any reference. One learns to be virtuous by taking a personal initiative of habituating with a worthy man. According to this theory, there is an ultimate aim of good for every action, just as much as there is a final good to every man. Morality is not measured with happiness; instead, it is the collective emulation of the human good or essence, in which emotions play a very fundamental part.

The utilitarian theory of ethics locates morality in the outcome of our actions. The hypothesis holds conventionally that no act is right or wrong. In particular, it argues that a moral action or decision is that which brings the highest amount of happiness to the highest number of people. In this regard, when one sets out for a particular duty, the morality of that action will be judged according to the number of individuals who benefit from it (Graham 128). In case a higher number is disenfranchised by his actions, the action stands out as not morally permissible. Individuals are regarded to as means to some ultimate good, rather than ends in themselves. By so doing, it downplays the individuals' objectives, feelings, and desires. With no moral principles of right and wrong, utilitarianism banks on the consequences of the morally good as the basis of morality, which has a long-run effect, leading to the abrogation of one’s natural rights, even of life, and dismissing of their feelings and desires, which are equally important.

The categorical theory of ethics locates morality in the absolute rights and duties that we hold as human beings, consequences, be what they may. The moral basis of the categorical imperative is that morality is based on practical reasonability whereby goodwill is the only thing that qualifies as superior without any contradictions. Human beings, by their natural instincts, are self-preservation seekers who will ensure that they do acts that favor them at all cost. According to this moral theory, our ethical duty is to obey the principles of morality, without inclining to our engagements or emotions (Betzler 29). An act done based on personal interest may be morally permissible, but if intentions are not good or reasonable, they qualify to be immoral. In light of this, the theory does very little to help solve personal conflicts of duty. Conversely, by discounting on individual emotions, it denies man the ability to actualize fully. We are built with the desires to seek help and sometimes offer a loving gaze. By downplaying these basic emotions that allow individuals to socialize, there are no appropriate and ethical motives for human actions. Personal involvement is sine qua non, to moral permissibility of an action or decision. By casting aside the consequences of individual responsibility, facts that strictly determine moral worth are purposefully blinded, at least, occasionally.

Virtue ethics gives direction to human actions by providing them with guiding virtues. It does not contain specific rules for ethical problems. In the same context, moral relativity is the assumption that there are no absolute rules and principles that a society follows. Despite our heterogeneity, social contract hypothesizes that there is universality of interests, where the society has ultimate end goals (Carr and Steutel 89). Social contract theory grounds human interaction to utility by accepting that there are diverse interests that may overlap to cause harm to others. We are social beings, but naturally, we gravitate towards self-preservation. The social contract can be an extension of moral relativity because the underlying agreement comes from the notion that we have different dreams and desires, which need protection by a particular representative. We are not derived from compassion to create sovereignty; somewhat we are inspired by our political nature.

Kantian modal duties do not extend to animals. According to Kant, no moral consideration should be given to a person who cannot be reasonable. Humans by their nature have a universal instinct of goodwill towards their fellow human beings(Betzler 155). The fact is true to the extent that that man is also as much reasonable as the other man. Animals not being sensible are owed no respect by man, different than being used as a means to an end. The problem can be solved by viewing our duties to animals as an exercise to the responsibility we have for man. By treating animals in a right way, we learn to treat our fellow man with dignity (Betzler 279). Virtue is something that is learned and practiced. If any case, we are all animals who are wired for self-preservation without regards to what our fellow man undergoes.

Works Cited

Betzler, Monika. Kant’s Ethics of Virtue. Walter de Gruyter, 2008. Print.

Carr, David, and Jan Steutel. Virtue Ethics and Moral Education. Routledge, 2005. Print.

Graham, Gordon. Eight Theories of Ethics. Psychology Press, 2004. Print.

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