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Virtue Ethics.docx

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University of Waterloo
Brian Orend

Virtue Ethics:  A normative (“the way things ought to be”) ethical theory that says that an action is morally right just because a virtuous person, acting in character, would do it in that situation  reflects their virtuous character  Not a single theory but a FAMILY of theories that came from the Ancient Greek philosophies  “excellence of character”  Development of good character over time  Examining the character traits needed to flourish for a desirable human life  If you have character defects  not moral/ moral problems  Your actions come out of your character  First look at the good life and the good person  THEN define the duties referencing those ideals  What kind of a person should I be? o People would ideally say one that:  maximizes happiness  treats others with respect  obey rules that rational + equal people approve of  honours absolute rules  A better person is a more virtuous person  more courageous + temperate + wiser  Broaden your thinking  focus more on ideals of character and less on moral duty  Have to consider character  e.g. police man with a bad character  afraid of punishment but would do bad things  We’d want our children to be like a person with good character  A virtue is a character trait  character traits define who we are  not habits  Our inner self (perceptions) is what separates us from being continent and truly virtuous o Continent: doing the right thing but suppressing desires that tempt us to not do our duty  We need develop a capacity for moral wisdom  from experience + emotional maturity  can’t be a child prodigy
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