1. Identify the main pros and cons of a virtue ethics approach?
The virtue ethics approach is a theory that suggests that people are judged via their character, not specific actions. An individual who has developed good character traits (virtues) is judged as a morally good person. An individual who has developed bad character traits (vices) is judged as a morally bad person. Most of us have a mixture or virtues and vices. There are many pros and cons linked to this approach. The pros include
a. Emphasis on pleasure and emotion – it is good that we should enjoy acting virtuously
b. Moral education – being moral is a developmental process
c. Consideration of life as a whole – “One swallow does not make a spring” (Aristotle, 1976)
d. No decision procedure – moral decision making is too complicated to have a single criterion for decision
The Cons are:
a. It Offers no solution to specific moral dilemmas
b. Not everyone has the equal opportunity to develop morally – do we judge them the same?
c. Many non-virtuous people live happy lives, many virtuous people are miserable
d. Cultural relativism – whose virtues are best?
e. We recognise that some non-virtuous people are useful in our society; life would be dull without them
2. What are the strengths of using a virtue ethics approach to resolve your case study?
One of the desirability of virtue ethics is the elasticity to measure each situation independently, searching for action guidance in bearing in mind what a naturally virtuous person would do. This would be clarified and informed by the pertinent facts and personal ethical sensitivities of that situation. This permits and heartens creative resolutions to very difficult problems, which may be harder to discover when affecting rules and principles. For example, the adult patient in our case was diagnosed wrongly for a certain condition and subsequently treated using the wrong diagnosis. She trusts the original diagnosis and refuses a second treatment. The hospital is an institution that should be careful since it is trusted. Medical staffs are usually accorded with virtues like compassion and trustworthiness. Looking at these facts, the moral assessment might be quite different. The doctors may deduce that a different course of action would be virtuous.
3. What are the limitations / disadvantages of using this approach?
The approach offers no solution to the specific moral dilemma within this case. The difficulty with virtue ethics is that it does not openly specify which deeds are virtuous. What may appear virtuous to one individual may not be to the next. Everybody has their own suggestion of virtue in whichever circumstances once it is assessed, and even if they act with good objectives, it may not bring out the best in the circumstances.
4. A. For your critique use your own experience of applying virtues PLUS what does the literature say?
B. Does the literature support your assessment of the approach?...