VIRTUE ETHICS. From Aristotle to the 21 st century. Why Should I Be Moral? Because of My Character!. Aretology. Arete - Excellence, Strength, Virtue Aretaic Ethics - Strength-Centred Ethics Emphasizes Virtues (Strengths) and Vices (Weaknesses) of Character
From Aristotle to the 21st century
“What Kind of Person Should I Be?”
Adapted from Martha C. Nussbaum, “Non-Relative Virtues”
“In a word, then, like activities produce like dispositions. Hence we must give our activities a certain quality, because it is their characteristics that determine the resulting dispositions. So it is a matter of no little importance what sort of habits we form from the earliest age ̶ it makes a vast difference, or rather all the difference in the world.” (II.i.) (Pojman, 396)
In 1958 she published an article
called Modern Moral Philosophy arguing
that we should return to the virtues,
as the idea of a law without a lawgiver
Modern moral philosophy is bankrupt; it must recover the tradition of virtue.
Importance of Narrative as a
“live tradition” – you need to know where ethics has come from.
Virtues change over time.
Tries to modernise Aristotle.
Ethics should not be about dry
theorising, but about making the
world a better place (she was one of the founders of Oxfam)
Virtue contributes to the good life.
A neo-Aristotelian – Aristotle was wrong on women and slaves, and there is no need to be limited to his list of virtues.
We acquire virtues individually, and
so flourish, but we do so together
and not at each other’s expense.
Developmental theories have been built on observations and assumptions about men’s lives and thereby distort views of female personality.
The kinds of virtues one honors depend on the power brokers of one’s society.
The Ethics of Care
Develops the feminist ‘ethics of care,’
and links it to a virtue ethics inspired
more by Hume and Hutcheson’s moral
sentimentalism than by Aristotle.
Slote’s version of virtue ethics is agent-based (as opposed
to more Aristotelian forms which are said to be agent
focused) i.e. the moral rightness of acts is based on the
virtuous motives or characters of the agent. The motives are all important.
She interprets Aristotle’s views as
absolutes… justice, temperance,
generosity etc. are essential to human flourishing
in all societies and in all times.
Nussbaum sees a relativist approach as being incompatible with Aristotle’s virtue theory.