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Virtue Ethics: The view of Aristotle

Virtue Ethics: The view of Aristotle

Virtue ethics refers to the normative ethical theories that stress virtue of mind and human character. Virtue ethicists give a description of virtues focusing on how they are acquired, their application in real life and whether human virtues are rooted in the universal human nature or in the plurality of cultures (Jayawickreme et al 289). In the context of Aristotle, one of the ethicists, excellent virtue of character supersedes the attainment of excellent conduct. According to Aristotle, an individual who poses the right virtue of character does the right thing in the right way and at the right time (Van 10). Virtue is overly practical and the main aim of ethics is not just to know what is good, but to become good.

Aristotle’s view on living a good life and becoming a good person is dependent on the consideration of means and ends. The end to human life is living well and flourishing, as such, all the means should be directed towards the attainment of that end. Good food and shelter, proper clothing and living itself are the means adopted towards the attainment of the end, living a good life. Aristotle posits that a good life is attained when an individual is in possession of all the natural desires (food, shelter, knowledge) that are the same for every person (Bright, Bradley and Jason 451). However, to attain actual living one has to develop a good character, known as virtues. Moral virtues play a significant role in living well, thus the attainment of the natural desires and development of good habit virtues ensures one lives a good life and become a good person. A moral virtue that defines a good life regulates the character trait of an individual. The virtuous character is evident at the mean between two extreme behaviors. When faced with a situation, like managing fear, the focus should be to develop a virtuous character that falls at the mean between two extreme vices, the excess and deficiency vice.

Focusing on happiness is the best way to live. Other than aiming at accomplishing certain purposes in life, attaining good life and desired virtues supports the attainment of good living. Fear of danger and pleasure are some of the virtues identified by Aristotle. The desire regulating character falls at the vice of deficiency, virtuous mean and the vice of excess (Bright, Bradley and Jason 458). Under regulation or over-regulation of one desires leads to the development of problems (Van 21). For instance, when responding to pleasure, the virtuous character trait is temperance. One can also acquire the vice of over-indulgence (excessive character) or insensibility (deficient extreme) that are likely to create problems. On the other hand, when responding to the fear of danger, it is required that one develops a virtuous character of courage. Problems are likely to occur if two extreme deficient character (cowardice) and excessive character (rashness) are developed by curbing and escalating fear respectively. It is important that people develop a virtuous mean character when faced with certain desires of appetite.


In Aristotle\’s time, most scholars were centered around one of two kinds of morals. One is called deontological morals, which makes a decision about morals by how well a person adheres to the laws and rules of society. Deontologists would state, \’\’it doesn\’t make any difference what occurs, adhering to the standard is consistently the proper thing to do.\’\’ The second, teleological morals, makes a decision about morals dependent on the results of a person\’s actions. Teleological ethicists would state, \’\’If what you do prompts something great, you did the privilege thing.\’\’ There are imperfections in the two kinds of reasoning, so Aristotle presented a third option.

Aristotle\’s point of view on morals depended on the goodness of being human; in other words, prudence morals. There are two significant distinctions between Aristotle\’s way to deal with morals and the other prevalent viewpoints at that point. To start with, Aristotle didn’t consider morals only a theoretical or philosophical theme to contemplate. To get morals, Aristotle contended, you really need to see how individuals act.

That prompted the second distinction. Morals weren\’t about \’\’what if\’\’ situations for Aristotle; rather, he adopted an extremely commonsense strategy and quite a bit of his thoughts on morals depended on what someone did and how their excellencies affected their actions.

Nicomachean Morals and Goodness

Nicomachean Morals is the name of a progression of books that Aristotle expounded on morals. In these works, he utilizes rationale to decide a definition and the likely effects of morals. He begins his presentation of morals with a straightforward assumption: people think and carry on in an approach to accomplish joy, which Aristotle characterized as the constant consideration of truth and conduct consistent with that fact.

Aristotle characterizes ethicalness as the normal, or \’mean,\’ among overabundance and lack. Fundamentally, he says, the possibility of uprightness is \’\’all things in moderation.\’\’ People ought to appreciate presence, however not be narrow minded. They ought to dodge torment and dismay, yet not expect a daily existence totally bereft of them. By endeavoring to carry on with this righteous existence of moderation, people can discover bliss and, therefore, be moral.

For Aristotle, moral virtue is the only practical road to effective action. What the person of good character loves with right desire and thinks of as an end with right reason must first be perceived as beautiful. Hence, the virtuous person sees truly and judges rightly, since beautiful things appear as they truly are only to a person of good character. It is only in the middle ground between habits of acting and principles of action that the soul can allow right desire and right reason to make their appearance, as the direct and natural response of a free human being to the sight of the beautiful.




Work cited


Jayawickreme, Eranda, et al. “Virtuous states and virtuous traits: How the empirical evidence regarding the existence of broad traits saves virtue ethics from the situationist critique.” School Field 12.3 (2014): 283-308.

Van Staveren, Irene. The values of economics: An Aristotelian perspective. Routledge, 2013.

Bright, David S., Bradley A. Winn, and Jason Kanov. “Reconsidering virtue: Differences of perspective in virtue ethics and the positive social sciences.” Journal of Business Ethics 119.4 (2014): 445-460.