Virtue Based Ethical Systems Essay, Research Paper
Virtue-Based Ethical Systems
For centuries, philosophers have argued over a controversial issue of morality. Could a person who makes moral decisions unhappily be as moral as a person who makes them happily? One philosophy on that issue ranges as far back as Plato and Aristotle, this is the concept of virtue-based ethical systems. Pojman writes, Virtue ethics centers on the heart of the agent-in his or her character. Virtue ethics seeks to mold the agent into a better person, not only guide their actions.
The Aretaic Critique Of Action-Based Ethical Systems
Quite recently in history many philosophers have begun to disagree with rule-governed ethical systems. These philosophers have four major criticisms about these systems. The first is that they lack a motivational component. Critics claim that action based ethics are uninspiring and boring, and that by creating a mentality of mindless conforming, they fail to motivate and inspire action. The second complaint is that the theological-legal system that action-based ethical systems are modeled after is no longer appropriate. In the days of old, the notions of right and wrong where drawn from cultural views on God. In modern days, ethics has been detached itself from it s theological roots and has lost it s original appeal, thus calling for a better system to reject this model and guide it s followers onto a better path. Critics also dislike how action-based ethical systems overemphasize autonomy and neglect the communal context of ethics. Pojman states, It is in communities that such virtues as loyalty, natural affection, spontaneous sympathy, and shared concerns arise and sustain the group. It is out of this primary loyalty that the proper dispositions arise that flow out to the rest of humanity. Seeing how people actually learn to be moral and how they are inspired to act morally is vital to moral theory itself, and this seems, has everything to do with virtues. It is obvious that major dissatisfaction has developed in regards to action-based ethical systems.
The Nature Of Virtue Ethics
Virtue ethics says that it is important to do the right thing, but also to have the requisite dispositions, motivations, and emotions in being good and doing right. The goal is to do good deeds, resist temptation, and abstain from cheating not only because it is the right thing to do, but because you are naturally a good person. It is believed that by living in an environment surrounded by moral agents, one will eventually spontaneously do what is right.
Pojman says that there are two ways of bringing this exemplar model of virtue ethics into focus, either through an examination of ideal types of persons or through following someone who is an ideal type. Aristotle believed that virtues are simply those characteristics that enable individuals to live well among others. He thought that by living well among our peers, we develop the right habits. And it is these habits as virtues that will lead us to a happy life. He also believed that all people did not have the same ability to be virtuous, Some are endowed with great ability, but others lack it altogether. Some people are worthless natural slaves.
It is a fact that most of us learn by watching others and emulating them, this is the heart of virtue ethics. People like Jesus, Ghandi, and Mother Theresa are examples of excellent people who have lived moral lives. These lives set the example and inspire us to live lives similar to theirs, amidst the belief that these individuals seemed dull-witted and humorlessly bland or that they where unable to enjoy the enjoyable in life. But Pojman sees nothing bland or boring about the lives these people lived. He has a deep appreciation for their ability to give without end, and to find a higher way of living. For where would this world be without such outstandingly beautiful people? It is through these individuals that we can find that a higher way of living is available to us all, but it is up to us to journey in its direction.