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    "Virtue is the health of the soul."

    Virtue Ethics is ethical philosophy which focuses on the importance of virtue and character in ethical decision-making. Unlike other ethical systems that prioritize outcomes, principles, or obedience to divine authority, virtue ethics emphasizes the development of virtuous traits.

    In contrast to consequentialism and deontology, which prioritize the consequences of actions and moral duty, virtue ethics places emphasis on cultivating virtues like honesty, kindness, and courage. While it doesn't disregard the significance of good outcomes or moral obligations, virtue ethics gives particular attention to virtues and concepts like eudaimonia (human flourishing) in ethical reasoning.

    History[edit | edit source]

    Contemporary Virtue Ethics[edit | edit source]

    Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Virtue and Vice[edit | edit source]

    In virtue ethics, a virtue is a quality that helps us think, feel, and act well in certain areas of life. On the other hand, a vice is a quality that leads us to think, feel, and act poorly. Virtues are not just habits; they're traits that define a person's character and shape who they are.

    Early and some modern versions of virtue ethics define virtues as traits that contribute to human excellence and well-being, known as eudaimonia. However, not all modern versions of virtue ethics define virtues this way. Some define virtues as qualities that promote other goods, which can include consequentialist ethics principles.

    To Aristotle, a virtue wasn't just a skill to achieve eudaimonia; it was an expression of eudaimonia itself - the idea of flourishing in activity.

    Unlike consequentialist and deontological ethics, where one might do what's right even if it's not in their own interest, in virtue ethics, doing what's right is seen as beneficial for oneself. Practicing virtue involves recognizing the alignment between one's self-interest and virtuous behavior, leading to a willingness and enthusiasm to act virtuously because it's considered the best way to live.

    Virtue and Emotion[edit | edit source]

    In ancient Greek and modern eudaimonic virtue ethics, virtues and vices are complex qualities that involve both thinking and feeling. They're about being able to reason well about what's right (called phronesis) and also feeling emotions appropriately.

    For instance, a generous person can think clearly about when and how to help others, and they feel good about helping without any internal conflict. Virtuous people are different from both vicious people (who can't reason well and are attached to the wrong things emotionally) and the incontinent (who know what's right but are tempted by their emotions to do otherwise). They're also distinct from the continent, who may be tempted by emotions but still do what's right through willpower.

    According to Rosalind Hursthouse, in Aristotelian virtue ethics, emotions matter because virtues and vices involve both action and feeling. Virtuous people feel the right emotions at the right times, toward the right people, and for the right reasons.

    Phronesis and Eudaimonia'[edit | edit source]

    Phronesis, also known as practical wisdom, helps someone figure out the best course of action in any situation. It's different from theoretical wisdom because it leads to decisions and actions. Practical wisdom involves being sensitive to what a situation requires.

    Eudaimonia, often translated as "well-being" or "human flourishing," describes the state of living a fulfilling life. Aristotle, a major proponent of eudaimonia, believed it to be the ultimate goal of human life. It involves using reason, which he saw as uniquely human, to engage in virtuous activities within a community.

    While Aristotle popularized eudaimonia, it's now a key concept in many virtue ethics theories. Virtues are qualities that help individuals achieve their purpose. Some modern virtue ethics theories don't focus on eudaimonia specifically, and some don't have a specific end goal in mind.

    How to Draw[edit | edit source]

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    Frenemies[edit | edit source]

    • Nietzscheanism - Values things like bravery and creativity, but tends to dismiss me when I talk about the need for compassion and honesty.
    • Utilitarianism - Sometimes acknowledges the need for virtues, but thinks that overall happiness is more important.
    • Kantianism and Deontology - Sometimes acknowledge the need for virtues, but think that duty is more important.

    Enemies[edit | edit source]

    • Hedonism - It's not enough to just have pleasure! You need to be virtuous too! There's nothing wrong with pleasure in and of itself though.
    • Nihilism - We can find meaning through living a good life.

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