• Hello Human
    96
    Most people consider virtue ethics as an ethical system opposed by consequentialism, deontology, and consequentialism. However, I don't think that that is true, as virtue ethics tries to answer the question "how do we ought to be ?" while consequentialism, deontologism and other views on ethics tries to answer the question "what do we ought to do ?".

    If it is possible for human beings to have any moral knowledge, then it must be that both of these questions can be answered separately, and the answers will not contradict each other in any way, that is, moral actions will always be made by people possessing the necessary virtues to perform that action.

    Edit: Expanded the first sentence.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    Generally there are three approacher to ethnics: Following rules; examine the consequences of one's actions; and becoming a better person. The question is, which is to be master?

    Perhaps what you do is who you are; in which case asking what you ought do is exactly asking who you should be.
  • javi2541997
    988
    Generally there are three approacher to ethnics: Following rules; examine the consequences of one's actions; and becoming a better person. The question is, which is to be master?Banno

    I think we should put on the table the principle of value inside ethics. It is not about the master of those approachers but how we rate or value them according to our education. Probably they are not even connected on a hierarchical aspect but of correlation. The main objective could be the development of value about ethics practice and way of living.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    ...principle of value...javi2541997

    That'd be one approach.

    The core of ethics is what will I do now. The consequences of your actions should be taken into account; but they are not entirely within your control. While being consistent is a consideration, it seems dubious that some rule could be both known ahead of time and yet applicable in all circumstances, so one will need to judge whatever rule one chooses to apply.

    What we are left with is the virtue of the person making the choice.

    That's another approach.
  • javi2541997
    988
    What we are left with is the virtue of the person making the choice.Banno

    This can be pretty subjective too because sometimes we forget to have empathy with the persons who committed the choice. This aspect can be applied on the context of taboo topics as suicide or police/military actions where the life of persons are lost or in risk.
  • Amity
    2.3k
    Most people consider virtue ethics as an ethical system.Hello Human

    Virtue ethics
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism)...

    This is not to say that only virtue ethicists attend to virtues, any more than it is to say that only consequentialists attend to consequences or only deontologists to rules. Each of the above-mentioned approaches can make room for virtues, consequences, and rules. Indeed, any plausible normative ethical theory will have something to say about all three. What distinguishes virtue ethics from consequentialism or deontology is the centrality of virtue within the theory (Watson 1990; Kawall 2009).
    SEP - Virtue ethics

    More to read in the SEP article about 2 central concepts: virtue and practical wisdom.
    Features that distinguish different VE theories from one another.
    Objections and Responses. Directions of future research...

    ***

    Using a film as an example:

    To illustrate the difference among three key moral philosophies, ethicists Mark White and Robert Arp refer to the film The Dark Knight where Batman has the opportunity to kill the Joker. Utilitarians, White and Arp suggest, would endorse killing the Joker. By taking this one life, Batman could save multitudes. Deontologists, on the other hand, would reject killing the Joker simply because it’s wrong to kill. But a virtue ethicist “would highlight the character of the person who kills the Joker. Does Batman want to be the kind of person who takes his enemies’ lives?” No, in fact, he doesn’t.Ethics unwrapped - glossary - virtue ethics
  • Amity
    2.3k
    The core of ethics is what will I do now.Banno

    In a particular situation where it matters to take or make the 'right' decision, given the circumstances.
    By developing 'virtuous' habits, it can help us make the best possible choice when confronted with an ethical problem.

    We can consider what might be thought of as 'virtuous'. Some might see a 'virtuous' action as 'vicious'.
    Having a set of values, even if not agreed on by others, affects our decisions in how we lead our lives.
    For better or worse...
    Nothing is guaranteed.

    Perhaps what you do is who you are; in which case asking what you ought do is exactly asking who you should be.Banno

    I think so :sparkle:
  • Banno
    15.1k
    SEP - Virtue ethicsAmity

    Stop sharing my crib notes.

    :kiss:
  • Amity
    2.3k
    Stop sharing my crib notes.Banno

    Hah. To share is to care :razz:
  • baker
    3.3k
    However, I don't think that that is true, as virtue ethics tries to answer the question "how do we ought to be ?" while consequentialism, deontologism and other views on ethics tries to answer the question "what do we ought to do ?".

    If it is possible for human beings to have any moral knowledge, then it must be that both of these questions can be answered separately, and the answers will not contradict each other in any way, that is, moral actions will always be made by people possessing the necessary virtues to perform that action.
    Hello Human

    How could these two questions possibly be separate??

    - - -

    It's not clear what the term "virtue ethics" actually means, since "virtue" and "ethics" are, for all practical intents and purposes, synonymous. Something that is virtuous is also ethical.

    , you're a proponent of virtue ethics. Can you explain what this term means?

    If the term "virtue ethics" should be meaningful, then there should also be a term like "vice ethics". Is there one? What do virtue ethicists have to say about this? Thanks.
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Imho, the virtue of ethics lies in (the) choice, which invokes the reasons for the choice. Banno lists three.
    Following rules; examine the consequences of one's actions; and becoming a better person.Banno
    I'll add Kant as shorthand for deontology because I think it's not the same as "following the rules."

    1. following the rules: Thou shalt.... I consider part of 2, below. Predigested ethics. Mostly mindless, fast and convenient, usually nutritious; that is, right. But without reason and not always right. In service, then, not of ethics but of that which promulgates (the) rules.

    2. Examining consequences. Which, as Banno notes, cannot be done. And it would be a peculiar set of ethics which reserved judgment until all the votes were in, not least because all the votes will never be in. Which leaves,

    3. Trying to do the right thing. And three "reasons" discernable here.

    i. to be a good person. @Amity provides a breakdown of a film:
    But a virtue ethicist “would highlight the character of the person who kills the Joker. Does Batman want to be the kind of person who takes his enemies’ lives?” No, in fact, he doesn’t.Ethics unwrapped - glossary - virtue ethics
    But maybe he should. That is, personal standard cannot trump ethical standard.

    ii. Trying to estimate consequences, as opposed to examining them. And no reason why not. Much good is done in the world by trying to figure out what would be good. But ethics? If ethics is the attempt to be something instead of a craps-shoot to attain the appearance of it, then it cannot be contingent, but must have a present substance of its own. Which leaves,

    iii. Kantian deontology. Which is not just following the rules, but instead making a critically reasoned present assessment of what the rule should be in that instance, as best one can. The ethical choice being to follow it. T. E. Lawrence provides an example in describing what he concluded was both the need for one of his "army" to be executed and him to do it. And he did, though loathe. Does Kantian ethics require the act itself? In my opinion, Kant would allow for the person who found that he or she could not perform the act. Perhaps in an echo of Aristotle, "while it would be right to do, it might not be right for him to do it."

    But these real ethics, difficult and to be distinguished from the usual candy-coated feel good kind.
  • 180 Proof
    6.5k
    Generally there are three approach[es] to et[hi[cs: Following rules; examine the consequences of one's actions; and becoming a better person. The question is, which is to be master?

    Perhaps what you do is who you are; in which case asking what you ought do is exactly asking who you should be.
    Banno
    More approaches come from explicitly combining the two or three of the approaches which you've mentioned in various ways. In my case, 'becoming a better person' is cultivated by 'acting in ways which prevent or reduce adverse consequences' to oneself and others (i.e. 'virtues' as positive feedback loops of 'negative utilitarian / consequentialist' practices). None of the basic approaches to ethics seems to do all the work which each respectively sets out to do, which is why (inspired by D. Parfit) I think they can be conceived of in combinations which compensate for each other's limitations.

    NB: My meta-ethical formula: deontology = eudaimonism × disutilitarianism; of course, the devilish details are for another thread (which I've sketched elsewhere).
  • Banno
    15.1k
    ↪Banno , you're a proponent of virtue ethics. Can you explain what this term means?baker

    A virtue is a personal attribute.

    Virtue ethics is about developing ethical personal attributes. The list usually includes things such as integrity, honesty, courage, fairness.

    Deontological ethics is following rules.

    Consequential ethics is about looking at the results of one's actions.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    I'll add Kant as shorthand for deontology because I think it's not the same as "following the rules."tim wood

    Yeah, it is. As you point out, the question then becomes which rule, and the judgement is simply moved a step further back. That's not a solution; it's not rules all the way down.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    More approaches come from explicitly combining the two or three of the approaches which you've mentioned in various ways180 Proof

    Sure, complicate the issues any way you want. In the end what you do is still down to you. Your choice of what rule to follow or what consequences you foresee remains your own.

    Best make sure you are up to the task, hey?

    That is, virtue remains master.
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Yeah, it is.Banno

    'Course it is, just like following rules is the same as establishing rules in the first place, a distinction you seem unable to make. But let's play chess for money, by the rules, eh?

    The fact is that under deontological ethics, you don't follow the rules because there aren't any. So you have to figure it out. So how do you follow rules that do not exist?
  • Banno
    15.1k
    I'm accused of being a Wittgenstein fanatic; I don't consider myself to be such. It's just that almost all of the issues on these fora are best considered using the tools he developed. That is, I use Wittgenstein because of the questions asked here.

    There is a way of understanding a rule that is not stating the rule, but is seen in implementing the rule. Acts speak louder than words. In ethics the rule will at best be a distraction from the fact that one is making a choice; more often it is an excuse to do what one ought not.

    SO drop the language of deontology and look at the choice, and the attributes shown in the making of that choice.

    Deontology reduces to virtue ethics.
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Deontology reduces to virtue ethics.Banno
    Deontology is an asking of what I should do, and an answering not in terms of pre-existing rules or what I hope might happen, but in terms of best reason that can be brought to bear.

    Sometimes - even often - the action will seem to fall under some rule, but that rule properly re-established for the occasion, made bespoke, if for no other reason than to see that it fits the occasion.

    And if you insist on virtue ethics - taking that as defined above - the how do you square that with the imperatives of circumstance? And lacking that squaring, how can you call it ethics?
  • Banno
    15.1k
    I'm not fussed whether you call it an "ethics" or not.

    And I don't see how what you are proposing differs from what I am proposing, since you too fall back on the virtue of reason. Any difference might be no more than the weight we each give to that one aspect of making a choice.
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    since you too fall back on the virtue of reason.Banno
    Reason as rigor, which presumably reduces nonsense. Or perhaps you mean reason as a feeling?

    And virtue ethics defined above
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues, or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism)...SEP - Virtue ethics
    appears to concern moral character. Which becomes viciously circular, unless you see a way out of the circle.

    That is, I do not see ethics as identical with personal virtue or moral character. I do not even know what those things are. If you care to educate, I'll read.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    Which becomes viciously circular,tim wood

    Set the circularity out.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.3k
    Which becomes viciously circulartim wood

    How so?
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    I am interested in maintaining my moral character. Therefore, my actions will be in accord with my moral character and tend to support and expand it, as opposed to reducing, subverting, or restricting it. Question: what exactly is my moral character? Answer: That which is augmented by my actions when I am acting in accordance with my moral character. Question: how do you know? Answer: I feel it.
  • Srap Tasmaner
    3.3k


    I can't make sense of any of that. @Banno?
  • Banno
    15.1k
    ...so...

    Glad you said that.

    I gather Tim wants to say something like that to develop one's moral character one musty first know what moral character is; but that doesn't strike me as quite right. The notion of developing involves improvement. Developing one's moral character involves developing an understanding of what moral character is.

    (A caveat that "moral character" is not a term I'd use; just keeping in line with Tim's wording.)
  • Antony Nickles
    499
    virtue ethics tries to answer the question "how do we ought to be ?" while consequentialism, deontologism and other views on ethics tries to answer the question "what do we ought to do ?".Hello Human

    Perhaps what you do is who you are; in which case asking what you ought do is exactly asking who you should be.Banno

    Deontology is an asking of what I should do... in terms of best reason that can be brought to bear * * * I do not see ethics as identical with personal virtue or moral character.tim wood

    I would just add that we seem to agree that a moral moment is a particular situation, say, when we don't know what to do, at the end of the rules or customs, or when our lives conflict with our culture. It may help to say we make the best decision we can based on all the available information--the most rational decision; based on the best methods or highest standards for our conduct. Though a fear remains that our decision is individual or personal, seemingly arbitrary. I would say that in Nietzsche, Emerson, Wittgenstein, and more currently, Cavell, this is both an argument about what to do and our part in that. The decision is not Ought vs. Am, but a realization that I play a part. Not that the reasons I decide upon before acting stand by themselves against society ( as just interests, desires), but that I must be willing to stand behind my acts (or not). We define ourselves (as @Banno points out), but we do not rely on our independence. I am responsible to answer for what I have done, maybe even without fobbing off on a rule or justified value or personal superiority or rationality (though I may have rationale). Cavell puts this that my relation to the world is more than knowledge, Emerson says character is higher than intellect, Wittgenstein asks us to see someone as having a soul (instead of wanting to know it), Nietzsche expresses this as attaining the human (Cavell also speaks of our "voice"). All of this is surrounded by ethical admonitions to look closely at each case, in history, with a context, extended from our rules and concepts and culture, even while turning against it, being adverse to it, beyond it.
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    Virtue ethics is currently one of three major approaches in normative ethics. It may, initially, be identified as the one that emphasizes the virtues,or moral character, in contrast to the approach that emphasizes duties or rules (deontology) or that emphasizes the consequences of actions (consequentialism)...SEP - Virtue ethics
    From above
    just keeping in line with Tim's wording.Banno
    As you can see, not my wording.

    The notion of developing involves improvement. Developing one's moral character involves developing an understanding of what moral character is.Banno
    From what, by what standard?

    And if you insist on virtue ethics - taking that as defined above - then how do you square that with the imperatives of circumstance? And lacking that squaring, how can you call it ethics?tim wood
    And you apparently missed this.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    by what standard?tim wood

    By the standard developing along with the improvement.

    The alternative is to presume you already have a standard that is applicable to every situation.
  • Banno
    15.1k
    And lacking that squaring, how can you call it ethics?tim wood

    And you apparently missed this.tim wood

    I'm not fussed whether you call it an "ethics" or not.Banno
  • tim wood
    8.1k
    By the standard developing along with the improvement.Banno
    And how can that be? Other than if it is what I say it is. Is ethics what I say it is?
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