• Deleted User
    Hello all,

    Hope this finds you well. This will be the first discussion I post in a three part series regarding the three ethical frameworks to which, not only I defer to in ethical deliberations, but a great number of people as well, whether they know they are doing so, or not. This discussion will focus on the nature of Virtue Ethics, originally formulated by the Socratic philosophers Plato and his student Aristotle. In book one of Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle remarks:

    "For that which is the prize and end of virtue seems to be the best thing in the world, and something godlike and blessed."

    But, just what is virtue? How do we know that it is something godlike? What constitutes the best thing in the world? Aristotle's first characterization of virtue in his epistemology is stated as "quality, i.e. of the virtues," meaning quality is what virtue is defined by in action, specifically actions that induce, as Aristotle calls, happiness, or 'eudamonia':

    "Now such a thing happiness, above all else, is held to be; for this we choose always for self and never for the sake of something else, but honour, pleasure, reason, and every virtue we choose indeed for themselves (for if nothing resulted from them we should still choose each of them), but we choose them also for the sake of happiness, judging that by means of them we shall be happy. Happiness, on the other hand, no one chooses for the sake of these, nor, in general, for anything other than itself."


    "while virtuous activities or their opposites are what constitute happiness or the reverse."

    Meaning, virtue implemented for its own sake, as well as for the pursuit of happiness as the source of happiness. But, If happiness is the standard of ethics, for which we implement virtues to achieve, wouldn't that mean that conflicting interests for achieving such happiness would render whatever one regards as 'virtue' negated by another person's standard of happiness? One must remember when studying the greeks that although their interest in philosophy, or the "contemplative life," was a personal endeavor, that such was also done in the hopes of promoting a more peaceful, and happy political life within which all men who dwelled could live in harmony. Furthermore, that they did not accept the idea of conflicting virtues, and with good reason. However, their ideas for acheiving such were quite questionable, and contradict most modern day standards of what constitutes a 'Just City,' or civil society, in modern phraseology. However, one can see the reason contained within this framework. To be happy with one's education, he must set out to embody the virtues that will allow them to succeed in such an endeavor: attentive study, practice, focused writing, relevant discussion; these would all be considered virtues that induce success in a goal, which thereby would induce greater happiness (eudamonia), thus the ethical approach at the activity. The same would be true for all activities Man finds himself engaged in, or so the Socratics posit. Let us together explore this enduring tradition in the philosophical branch of ethics.

    Thus, I will open the discussion from here for anyone to join. The topic at hand will be the justifications of such a framework, disagreements regarding using a framework of this kind to evaluate moral actions, ancillary documentation to further the discussion, modern relevance in ethics, new ideas for the framework, and all around friendly and intellectual debate on anything apropos Virtue Ethics.

    Thanks for stopping by!


    Source: http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html
  • Banno
    Characterising virtue as a way of achieving happiness misplaces it within consequentialism.
  • Deleted User

    A fabulous point, I agree. But, let us just keep it with virtue for now, and see if we can, just from that perspective alone derive a workable framework of ethics. This being because, no matter which framework you're working with, the presence of virtues that are appropriate to that framework are going to be present

    p.s. Utilitarianism is my next topic, so consequentialism will be discussed there.
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