To what extent do modern versions of Virtue Ethics address the weaknesses of Aristotle’s teachings on virtue?
Aristotle’s idea of Virtue Ethics was influenced by his belief that all things and all humans have a purpose (a telos). For him a complete explanation of something has to include its final cause or purpose which essentially is to realise its potential. Virtue Ethics itself is concerned with the characteristics of a person rather than how a person behaves and it is this he outlined in his book Nicomachean Ethics. A ‘’virtue’’ are qualities that lead to a good life e.g. courage and honesty. Aristotle explains for a person to adopt these qualities into their own lives is to maximise their potential to achieve a happy life and he goes
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Aristotle’s teachings are seen throughout Macintyre’s work so how therefore can Aristotle’s work be criticized for having weaknesses? However not all modern philosophers use Aristotle’s work in their own and many would argue against my view that it is without weakness. J.L Mackie, Louden and Sidgewick have criticized Aristotle’s teachings for being too vague for any application and Sidgewick went on to say it only indicates the whereabouts of a virtue. The belief that is doesn’t provide accurate guidance can also be seen in Rosalind Hursthouse’s work. She believes Aristotle’s work on Virtue Ethics doesn’t explain how a person would or should act but only how a virtuous person would think about the dilemma. However she like Foot and Anscombe is a supporter of Aristotle’s approach to morality using his work but adapting it to suit a modern society. When looking at Aristotle’s teachings, they can be seen as very cultural dependent. The change in culture in our society today can be seen as a barrier for reviving this ethical theory. During the time of Aristotle communities were consistent in what they believed and this made virtues applicable to all. However in relation to our own communities today is there this consistency? In my opinion I do not