Chapter 9 – Virtue theory
o Virtues – trained behavioral dispositions that result in habitual acts of moral goodness.
o Vice – The opposite of virtue, trained behavioral dispositions that result in habitual acts of moral wrongness.
o Virtue theory: based on the central theme of which is that morality involves producing excellent persons, who act well out of spontaneous goodness and serve as examples o inspire others.
o Virtue-based concept of theology – focuses on the goal of life: living well and achieving excellence.
- Main virtues: wisdom, temperance, courage and justice → cardinal virtues.
- Another one is: faith, hope, and charity → theological virtues
- Happiness requires that we be lucky enough to love n a flourishing state.
- Living according to the golden mean: the virtues are at a middle ground between excess and deficiency.
The ideal individual
- Most of us learn by watching others and imitating them (Nazi example, Fr. Kolbe); this is a characteristic of virtue ethics.
- The saints and moral heroes are the salt by which the world is preserved.
- Susan Wolf argue that the moral saints are unattractive because they lack the ability to enjoy the enjoyable in life.
o Perhaps what we find boring when compared to attractive people as Hollywood’s most fashionable stars is more the function of our moral education and development or appreciation than it is attributable to any saints or moral heroes.
- Moral agents who go beyond minimal morality are necessary for a society if it is to overcome evil and produce high degree of flourishing. Shouldn’t we all be more altruistic than we are?
Criticism of action-based ethics
- Hobbes argues: is to teach people the virtues that will enable us to spontaneously follow these specific rules, such as the virtues of justice gratitude and sociability.
o We should also shun vices that will prevent us from acting on these rules.
o Virtues for Hobbes are essential for keeping peace.
- But changed with utilitarianism and Kantianism.
Utilitarian Bentham and Stuart Mill argued:
- What matters in morality are the pleasing or painful consequences of our actions; virtues play no role in making such assessment.
- The core of morality is one’s duty to follow the moral law as we rationally discover it through the categorical imperative. Just because you have a virtue, doesn’t mean that you’ll follow the moral law.
• Virtue-based theory: We should acquire good character traits, not simply act according to moral rules; (2) morality involves being a virtuous person.
• Action-based theory (Kant and utilitarianism): (1) We should act properly by following moral rules; (2) we judge people based on how they act, not on whether they are virtuous people.
- Virtue based theory emphasizes merely being rather than doing.
o Crucial question here is: What sort of person should I become?
- Action-based theory on the other hand emphasizes the need to act according to moral rules, such as...