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I have added some lecture notes from the Fall 2002 lectures on virtue ethics. There may be some overlap between the two parts of this webpage, but materials from the one section may add to your understanding of the other.Virtue ethics is an approach that deemphasizes rules, consequences and particular acts and places the focus on the kind of person who is acting.
Character traits are 1) dispositions or habit-like tendencies that are deeply entrenched or engrained.
They have been referred to as second nature--"first nature" referring to tendencies with which we are born.
Character traits are not innate--we were not born with them. 2) formed as a result of more or less freely selected actions of a certain kind.
We are not born honest or liars, but we become so by repeatedly telling the truth or by repeatedly lying.
Others may wish to consult the source before or after hearing or reading my introductions.
Here is the horse's mouth himself, Aristotle, discussing the nature of moral virtue, in Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics.
Craft knowledge is a technical virtue specific to a particular line of work (rhetoric or the art of effective persuasion, the housebuilder's art, the computer programmer's art, the accountant's art). You cannot be morally reasonable in the fullest sense, you cannot have the virtue called prudence, unless you are morally virtuous.
The person who is not morally virtuous is sometimes ruled by his or her appetites or passions.
An act or choice is morally right if, in carrying out the act, one exercises, exhibits or develops a morally virtuous character.
It is morally wrong to the extent that by makiing the choice or doing the act one exercises, exhibits or develops a morally vicious character.