Classic Virtue Ethics

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  • Aristotelian Virtue Ethics
    • The Function Argument
      • everything we do have a purpose (Telos)
        • Everything as a function (ergon) and being good is to perform function well.
      • P1: For humans to be good we must perform our functions well.
        • P2: To do this is to perform the action in accordance with virtues.
          • IC1: The good for anyone is to be virtuous when completing actions.
            • P3: the function for humans is rationality.
              • IC2: the good for humans is to act rationally in accordance with virtues.
                • P4: Happiness is good for humans.
                  • C: happiness is rationality in accordance with virtue.
    • Eudaimonia
      • The goal in life
        • Emphasized that pleasure doesn't lead to happiness
          • The value of pleasure is determined by the value of the activity
    • Intellectual and moral virtues
      • Inellectual
        • Virtues of the mind
          • Ability to understand, reason and make judgments,
            • May be taught
      • Moral
        • Moral character of the agent
          • Acquired through habit
            • include: Temperance and justice
      • Cardinal virtues
        • Prudence
        • Temperance
        • Fortitude
    • Golden mean
      • The balance between excess and deficiency
        • Developing virtues is acting in the mean and choosing the right way to act with the appropriate degree in the circumstance
      • Aristotle thought it was important to find a balance
    • Strengths
      • 2.Focuses on the person rather than just an action or outcome. More holistic and well rounded.
      • 1. Easy to put into practice. Compared to Kantian ethics it is not purely theoretical and is easily accessible as everyone can understand the virtues, no laws/rules to learn or follow.
    • Weaknesses
      • 2.Hard to find the mean. Not all actions have a mean e.g., adultery or murder and to find the mean there is no formula to use so people struggle to determine their actions.
      • 1.       Virtues can be culturally relative so identifying them can be difficult. Definitions of each virtue will vary in communities so decisions will differ.
  • good pleasure is good activity
    • The value of pleasure is determined by the value of the activity
    • good is what is good for all which is to have the best quality of life


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