Aristotle's Virtue Ethics
Aristotle in his virtue ethics states that a virtuous individual is someone with ideal traits. These characteristic traits normally come from an individual’s innate tendency but should be cultivated. After they are cultivated, these character traits supposedly become stable in an individual. Moral consequentilaists and deontologists are normally concerned with universal doctrines that can be utilized in any situation that requires moral interpretation. Unlike these theorists, Aristotle’s virtue ethics are concerned with the general questions such as “what is a good life”, “what are proper social and family values”, and “how should one live” (Bejczy 32). Aristotle developed his virtue ethics based on three central principles; eudaimonia, ethics of care, and agent based theories. Eudaimonia stipulates that virtues can be seen in the way an individual flourishes; flourishing under this concept refers to one’s ability to perform their functions with distinct accuracy (Bejczy 33).
The distinct function of humans according to Aristotle is reasoning, and a worthy life is characterized by good reasoning. The agent based theory places emphasis on the fact that virtues are determined by common institutions people use to label traits in other people as admirable. According to Aristotle’s virtue ethics, a virtue like honesty does not necessarily refer to the tendency of people acting honestly, or the classification of the virtue as a desirable trait. Instead, Aristotle purports that the virtue of honesty is predisposed and entrenched in an individual (Bejczy 34). In virtue ethics, therefore, an individual cannot be labeled as honest since he is not cheating, or by observing the honesty in one’s dealings. In addition, if an individual acts honestly because he/she is afraid of being caught, or because he/she thinks it is good to do so rather than recognizing that engaging in a contrary behavior will be dishonest, such as an individual cannot be labeled as honest (Bejczy 35).
The choices made by an honest individual will always reflect the views the individual has regarding truth and honesty. Aristotle’s virtue ethics is mainly concerned with the questions of “what is a good life”, “what are proper social and family values”, and “how should one live”. An honest individual values honesty and in most cases will choose to have honest friends, raise his/her children to embrace honesty, and work with honest people. Aristotle’s virtue ethics also differentiates between continence and perfect virtue (Bejczy 36). Perfect virtue implies that people who are fully virtuous will perform tasks, which they are supposed to be done without experiencing conflict with contrary desires. On the other hand, people who are continent will struggle to control the temptation of engaging in behaviors that compromise virtue. Another reason Aristotle says can make an individual not attain full virtue is lack of practical or moral wisdom or phronesis....