Virtue Ethics

Virtue EthicsVirtue ethics in moral philosophy emphasizes on a person to act in a virtuous manner in any situation the person is facing. Most virtue theorist says that there exists a standard set of attributes from where all humans benefit from (Bejczy, 2008). These universal virtues are natural to all mature beings, and there is not any that is distinct to a person however much they might be difficult to acquire. Such attributes include Justice, Temperance, fidelity, prudence, self-care among others. Virtue ethics theories derive their origin from Aristotle, who said that for a person to be considered virtuous, the person must possess certain ideal character traits. According to virtue ethics, virtues are acquired from natural internal tendencies. These acquired characteristics need to be nurtured. The nurturing of these traits from natural internal tendencies establishes them such that they become active within the person. A virtuous person possesses the quality in all the situations throughout the life. The manifestation of these matured traits within the individual is easy because that is the person’s trait but not because the person want to receive favors.

Situationism as a theory argues that the personality that a person possess is more influenced external factors than by the internal traits or the motivation of the individual. The behavior is a response to the immediate situation (Nadelhoffer,et,al. 2010).  The feature of situations may dictate a behavior in a particular manner even though the individual may remain unaware of the characteristics and the influence they impact.  This happens because of the minute conscious control over behavior and lack of insight into why the individual do what they do. As a theory in psychology, situations approach to behavior stands that the general traits apart from intelligence do not exist. People’s actions are more influenced by the situation they are in than by their internal factors. Concerning the improvement of a behavior, the proponents of the situationist psychology argue that if the situation has a powerful effect on the individual’s regular behavior, then the individual has the powers to improve own behavior with respect to the position.

Virtue ethics as a theory has been criticized because of the difficulty involved in defining and deciding what a virtue is.  This is because the different cultures, societies, communities, families and the people have different standing opinions on what is accepted as a virtue within them. One such criticism is that virtue theory does not focus on the type of actions that are accepted and which ones are not. Virtue theory focuses on what qualities a person needs to exhibit so that they can be said to be real people( Nadelhoffer, et, al.2010). For example, if somebody steals, virtue theorist may argue that the individual who stole lacks in certain essential virtues like fairness. Stealing is an immoral action, but some virtue theorists may not condemn it but only to argue that the thief requires certain attributes. Virtue ethics fails to provide guidance on how an individual should act as there are no clear laid down principles on how an individual should act.

The golden mean in philosophy is the average of two extreme cases. The two extremes must be in such a way that one is of excess and another of deficiency. Golden mean as a concept when it is discussed in the context of ethics it is then considered a virtue. Each virtue lies between two vices. One vice that is caused by the extreme and another vice caused by the deficiency of the same virtue. If a triad is formed, the extreme falls on one side and the excess on the other with the mean in the middle ( Aristotle, et, al.2014).  This does not mean per sei that the golden mean is that exact mathematical middle at the center of the triad. It, however, means that the center relies on the situation prevailing. An individual whose character lies near the two vice is said not to be virtuous. If there is an individual whose character lies in the middle, the person is said to possess the ideal traits and is virtuous.

The medical profession follows the medical virtue ethics. Medicine involves training and the practice of medical procedures( Bejczy,et,al.2008). Aristotle refers to training as an intellectual virtue. The practice of medical procedures has medical consequences or outcomes. The medical profession is therefore fundamentally influenced by Aristotle’s practice of ethics. Medical practitioner always follows the see one, do one and teach one model of medical teaching. The ‘see one’ done by a medical expert gives the idea of how to perform a medical procedure. The ‘do one’ is learning an actual skill on one or more aspect of medicine like surgery. The last which is ‘teach one’ means showing what was initially seen and what was done ( Aristotle, et, al.2014). The see one, do one and explain one model of medical teaching settles the virtue ethics demand for observation and practice. Virtue ethics there for reinforces medical practices.

References

Aristotle, ., & Reeve, C. D. C. (2014). Nicomachean ethics.

Bejczy, I. P. (2008). Virtue ethics in the Middle Ages: Commentaries on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, 1200 -1500. Leiden: Brill.

Nadelhoffer, T., Nahmias, E. A., & Nichols, S. (2010). Moral Psychology: Historical and contemporary readings. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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