Virtue Ethics is one of three common angles of approaches in the realm of normative ethics. Virtue ethics was created by the Ancient greeks, who used this ethical theory to live and understand life with proper moral character. Virtue Ethics focuses on deontology and consequentialism. Deontology is the study of the nature of duty and obligation, while consequentialism is the study of the morality of an action which is judged solely by its consequences. Virtue ethics is constructed upon the character of the individual, in contrast to Kantian ethics which is constructed upon the categorical imperative. Virtue ethics has a tendency to be more individualized than other ethical theories because it constructed solely upon an individual’s own morals and virtues.
This individualized form of ethics is beneficial as it allows a person to make moral disputations based on their own character as opposed to playing a role just to fit in to what society would view as morally just. This can be regarded as an extremely positive attribute of virtue ethics because it allows individuals to express their personal virtues through their actions and decisions. As we each share different virtues in life, our goals will vary. Personal goals have a significant effect on character development, which then affects our future virtues and ethical beliefs. Virtue is believed to promote growth of character and someone with pure virtues is said to be one who achieves true satisfaction in life.
Upon reading the original frameworks of virtue theory by the Forefathers; Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, and the Epicureans, I have come to conclusion that the original works are very individualistic in orientation. It seems as if the main focus is helping others through self help. I believe the criticism that states that the focus should be on what acts contribute to the good of all, all being the bigger picture, society as a whole or a certain grouping. I believe that there can be too much emphasis on individual virtue, and although individual virtue offers many positive opportunities for individuals, it is important we regard the bigger picture as well and consider society and the world around us.
In the criticism of virtue ethics relating to virtue and society, the question at hand is of which is more basic and which is more important; the cultivation of individual virtue or the benefit of the whole? I believe the cultivation of your individual virtue is less simplistic. I say it is more complicated for a multitude of reasons. The first reason is if you take a look a society today, there’s a large percentage of youth and young adults often trying to find themselves. These people spend their whole life “soul searching” and often don’t find themselves until their dying breaths, some even die wondering who they truly were. Another reason it is more complicated is that there are so many outside influences that can steer oneself away from who they truly are, from spouses and friends to vices, like drugs and alcohol. I believe the cultivation of your individual virtue is more Important. This can be regarded as more important because oneself is the most important aspect of life. Without finding oneself and establishing firm guidelines and ground rules life and its challenges may seem often not accomplishable. Individual virtue is often regarded as the foundation of principle and good moral being that strengthens us and allows us the ability to make the correct decisions by persevering and overcoming external pressures which entail will make us more inclined to make the wrong decision. I believe that there are multiple sets of virtues. In each individual grouping be it from global to cultural, down to each individual family, each individual microcosm of society requires different values. I believe that because no matter how similar two groups are, there will always be differences between them and what the value morally. A singular difference may be enough to cause a need for a different set of virtues. For example, compare the French culture and the Italian culture. Both are world class in viticulture and culinary arts. Both are known for a plethora of cheeses, pastries, and delicacies, however the cultures are so different despite being geographically attached at the hip. The French are often regarded for their arrogance and lack of interest in anything not directly related to French culture. While the Italians are a tight knit community, they are open to multiculturalism and embrace others who do not share the same blood. They are always willing to accept others with open arms and teach others their ways, hoping that the individual finds their self while taking elements of the Italian culture with them, wherever they may go.
In summary, virtue ethics emphasizes the roles of one’s character and the virtues that one’s character embodies for determining or evaluating ethical behaviour. Virtue ethics is the quest to understand and live a life of moral character. Virtue Ethics believes we acquire virtue though practice