virtue ethics and aristotle

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5 Oct 2011
Ethics Lecture
October 3, 2011
Virtue Ethics and Aristotle
Virtues are reflected in a situation-specific actions established by
Is acquired through proper practice
Virtue is necessary but not sufficient for happiness [virtue will
not protect you from suffering]; you need external positive goods
like friends and wealth in order to establish the virtues
You cannot have eudaimonia without virtue
Aquinas: Christian Virtue Ethics
Virtue of prudence: one of the four cardinal virtues; prudence is
the virtue in which you cannot have any other virtue; prudence is
the capacity that allows you to judge in other virtues on what the
right action is
Justice, courage and temperance
Theological virtues: faith, hope and charity [virtues that help
human beings fulfill god’s plan]
We also have a function according to a divine plan
Humans are a part of God’s plan
Foot: Puzzles in Virtue Ethics
For whose benefit are the virtues? Lists from different
philosophers give you different things. What is the common
Virtue is good for the self and it makes you a better person and
that its good for you; in being just, you may also be giving
yourself a direct benefit as it may give you courage but the idea
is that doing those things is good for you soul
Virtue of courage is supposed to be obtained when you use it for
someone other than yourself; virtues make people better and
also other people better
What are we saying is ‘good’ when we say virtues are good?
Virtues are corrective
Temptation: she thinks humans are already hard-wired to pursue
pleasure, Aristotle’s virtue of temperance is corrective of a
natural disposition of humans. We have the virtue of bravery to
correct the natural disposition humans have of being fearful. You
have to tell people to suppress what they want for the sake of
being charitable to others
Is being virtuous difficult? Do we praise them if they have a hard
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