The theories of morality are geared upon human conduct but they don’t emphasize on explicit rules to be followed, but are a guideline for aiding other individuals to attain positive character traits. These have been applied in various dimensions of life, in medical practice as well as in business ethics. These virtues include but not limited to generosity as well as kindness to enable an individual to engage in the right decision making in future. The virtue theory maintains that individuals require learning to curbing ill traits such as anger and greed. These negative traits are termed as vices which, hinders individuals to become good people. The study of virtue ethics is linked to Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aquinas and Aristotle and has thus been the western philosophy’s earliest ethical theory. According to these philosophers, four .most important virtues include wisdom, justice, temperance as well as courage which have to be leant and practiced in moderation. This paper shall explore these virtues, how they relate and their application.
Virtue ethics had earlier been discussed by Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics. He argued that individuals engaged in good conduct and hence are in a position to control their emotions as well as attain rational thoughts (Aristotle 72). As a result, they would make decisions that have moral correctness during times of hardships. Virtue ethics has been widely studied and applied and it aids scholars and the society to understand morality since it is clear on the responsibility of motives in moral setups. Being present in one’s conduct, virtues is likened to behaving due to motivation, which maintains that virtues are essential for right moral decisions, thus right moral decisions are dependent on the right motives. Therefore, cultivating motivation is essential to inflict moral uprightness through having the right desire of certain results in order to pursue accomplishments of set objections through the right conduct. Virtue theories also allow man to understand that when they succeed to designs the character that they desire, coming to the right moral decision is ushered naturally. Individual can improve the virtues through practice lack of which one is regarded as morally immature. Virtue theory does not set explicit rules, but it is primarily focused at an individual’s moral virtues (Aristotle et al., 4).
From Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics he talks of happiness which should be attained through eudemonia. This is however, not an emotional state but about potential fulfillment and these aids in flourishing or having full potential and thus exhibiting the best that an individual can attain (Swanton 60). Learning and practicing virtues enables one to be happy in that they attain the ultimate fulfillment through attaining a balance and being moderate. For instance, one virtue is courage, which is noted to be the midpoint of two extreme cases of either cowardice or rashness. People become just by undertaking just actions.
Generosity is noted as a midpoint existing amid extravagance or stinginess in relation to financial aspects. Extravagant individuals excessively give out while they have a defect in obtaining the finances. A stingy individual on the other hand, has a defect in giving out finances but is haste at obtaining it. Another virtue is temperance comes amid self-indulgence & insensibility in relation to pleasurable desires that individual’s body has, which includes sexual engagement, drinking or even eating. People become temperate by undertaking temperate things.
Justice as a virtue is divided into particular and general justice. General Justice, according to Aristotle is universal justice, which is present in an ideal society. On the other hand, particular justice can be termed as punishable criminal behavior or injustice. He maintains that an intellectual judge is required to enforce just choices in relation to a certain case. From this, it is possible to attain the scale of justice where a judge, has to decide the cases’ undertaking as they weigh the evidence. Aristotle recognizes that harmony is essential in this virtue since justice is applicable to a certain case while it is inapplicable to another (Walker & Ivanhoe 1).
Aristotle argues that pursuing good habits results to a good person, where applying the golden mean in every virtue enables person’s to lead a happy and good life. In relation to these, virtues, Hutchinson notes that what is really meant by the statement, ‘we need to do just things to become just, and temperate things to become. Temperate’ is that individual’s engage in both of these virtues then, become both just and temperate in comparison to doing literate and musical aspects where one can be termed as being literate as well s musical. “Actions, then, are said to be just and temperate whenever they are such as the just .man or the temperate man would do. But it is not he who does them who is just and temperate, but he who does them in the way that just and temperate men do them” (Hutchinson 89). Hence it right to conclude that “it is by doing just things that a man becomes just and that it is by doing temperate things that a man becomes temperate” (89).
Justice is defined as a golden rule in that it embraces the notion that one should do unto others the way one should like to be treated. This often leads to truth as well as living harmoniously within a society. When an individual handles others the way they would like to be handled, they avoid harming them but instead, show their respect towards them and their belongings. Being passive is an injustice and this concepts advocates for being practical since, being a hardliner may be detrimental to others well being. For justice to manifest there must be honor, which comes along being just as well as courageous. For instance, a litigious society disregards the value of legal justice, which is arguably the most valuable possession that an individual could have.
Courage is a significant treasure for mankind as they exhibit their want to declare the just and truthful case. This concept is called courage and an individual does what is right, while remaining truthful and having a full understanding and at the same time, ignoring any fear that might come on the way. Understanding justice calls for courage to maintain the rightful norms. Wisdom comes in handy since one is acquainted with the values to defend and the ones to disregard. Being brave in instances that are unjust portrays savageness.
Wisdom is another virtue that calls for acknowledgement on the current undertakings and one which remains the eventual aim of a truth seeker. Being aware of the unreal truth is that is referred to as wisdom, which allows an individual to the understanding as well as application of certain norms. Wisdoms based on having knowledge, which is identified as buildup of facts as well as information. Having been experienced is therefore crucial since knowledge is applicable towards a good life, which would become valueless if it fails to achieve its aim. Wisdom is not age dependent and sheds light on justice ,which requires courage thus calling for another virtue of being moderate to avoid being extreme.
Moderating is a guide towards positive living where one engages in extremities to become negative. Moderation is therefore the core value behind the virtues, which brings along wisdom, just, courage and making certain that they are harmonious. Moderation allows people to acknowledge the legality of justice, the brutality which comes with being courageous as well as discerning the buildup of knowledge to become wisdom. These virtues allows man to gain freedom and can be applied in the contemporary society as much as they did during the periods of the Socrates, which ultimately leads one to good life.
The Socrates knew that self- development was that main issue in the course of living striving towards being materialistic. Socrates tried all ways and means possible to lure certain individuals towards friendship and socialization within a so as the ultimate party to strives towards people’s development. Socrates teachings involved the concept that making had a common pathway insisting that man had a treasure in form of virtues, which was oriented towards pursuing for betterment while the actual truth was beneath the shadows of life itself. Being ‘qualities of the good’ virtues exist as absolute concepts as universal norms, which form the basis of absolute goodness (Darwall 51).
To sum it all, virtue theory pays key attention on individual traits and determines how they should be and the virtues to pursue to make life more enjoyable. Personal inclinations as well as desires have been termed as being crucial to morality. Virtuous traits include wisdom, temperance, justice as well as courage, which are a center between two extreme ends of a trait. For instance one could be cowardly having a deficiency of courage or could go to an extent of being rash and possess extreme courage. As a result courage as a virtue intersects the two vices. Virtue ethics indicates that individuals can develop personally with a given period and pursue towards becoming a better person. According to Aristotle, pursuing virtues is the path towards success as a person since it achieves moral development, unlike deontological ethics, which address sole isolation act while judging individuals on their actions based on the occasion.
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