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Learning objective. To know and understand the strengths of virtue ethics. Key words Non-normative Humanistic Liberal. Key question What is a virtue?. ONE : NON-NORMATIVE. Virtue theory is non-normative. It does not give a prescriptive rule of laws that you should follow.

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Learning objective

Learning objective

  • To know and understand the strengths of virtue ethics

Key words




Key question

What is a virtue?

One non normative


  • Virtue theory is non-normative. It does not give a prescriptive rule of laws that you should follow.

  • This gives more freedom to the individual and the agent is in complete control of their own morality.

  • People are able to create their own laws for living.

  • Rather than looking for rules it looks at what it is to be human.

One non normative1


  • This freedom is essential for a person to flourish.

  • Without being able to choose what to do and take control of their own lives a person cannot exercise the intellectual virtues and cannot become moral.

  • It is for a person to make the choice to find the right thing to do.

One non normative2


  • Examples

  • What idea of freedom does this tie into?

  • Who said that absolute freedom is difficult to cope with?

Two culturally relative

two: culturally relative

  • Aristotle said that virtues are culturally relative.

  • Virtues are specific to a culture and one set of virtues may not fit correctly with another culture.

  • This means that no one culture is superior to another – all cultures are morally equivalent.

Two culturally relative1

two : culturally relative

  • This is beneficial for our society because it means that any society in the world can use virtue ethics.

  • They just need to identify their goals for themselves and work out the correct virtues.

  • Examples: can you think of a virtue that is relevant for us today?

Three liberal and accepts mistakes

three : liberal and accepts mistakes

  • Virtue theory takes into consideration the whole person.

  • They are therefore, not judged simply on one mistake rather their whole life is taken into consideration.

  • As long as you are making an effort to change your personality and are attempting to practise the virtues then you are doing the right thing.

  • Mistakes are tolerated.

Three liberal and accepts mistakes1

three : liberal and accepts mistakes

  • As a person develops they move through different stages of life.

  • It is possible for a person to move from vicious to virtuous over the course of their life.

  • It is therefore has a positive view of human nature. It is concerned with reform and the view that a person can change their very nature.

Four humanistic

Four : humanistic

  • Virtue theory does not seek justification for its morality from an absolute source.

  • It does not need a God to justify why to be moral.

  • Rather it gets its backing from humans and is therefore, a humanistic theory.

  • this means that it has a lot of attraction for non-religious people.

Four humanistic1

Four : humanistic

  • Anybody can follow this theory.

  • It has great potential in British society where there is a moral vacuum caused by the decline in religion and rise in postmodernism.

  • The more people that become virtuous the better our society will become.

  • It can also give direction and guidance to those that are lost, adrift in empty space.

Five fits in with a religious point of view

five : fits in with a religious point of view

  • As well as being humanistic it also allows for a religious understanding of the theory.

  • As you can choose for your virtuous example a religious person or you can be educated in religious virtues.

  • Because it focuses on the type of person you should be a person could aim to be more “Christ-like”

  • As well as that many of the modern concepts of virtue have come from Christian writers and commentators over the years.

  • examples

Five fits in with a religious point of view1

five : fits in with a religious point of view

  • The important acronym for a Christian, WWJD becomes important here.

  • What would Jesus do?

  • A Christian can therefore stay a Christian but also be interested in virtue and seek to maximise the virtues that Christianity cherish.

Five fits in with a religious point of view2

five : fits in with a religious point of view

  • In addition the synergy created between Christian theology and Aristotelian thought by Aquinas demonstrates shows an important relationship between the two theories.

  • Virtue is essential for modern Christian thought.

  • Virtues of compassion, faith, patience, love and forgiveness are essential to its sense of morality.



  • Non-normative

  • Culturally relative

  • Liberal

  • Humanistic

  • Fits in with religion

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