Virtue Ethics And The Morality Of Welfare

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Welfare can be thought of as the security, happiness, and well-being of a person or group of people. When we speak of welfare in a public sense though, it is most often used to indicate a social effort to promote basic physical, mental, and material comfort of people who are in need. The current state of welfare has been criticized on both economic and moral grounds. It is the morality of welfare that we will look at in this paper. Is welfare morally sound? The morality of welfare will be seen through the lens of virtue ethics, care ethics, and Kantian ethics.
Virtue Ethics In applying virtue ethics to the morality of welfare, the problem is where to start. Virtue ethics state that you “can’t tell whether an act is right or wrong
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55)”. Again, we have to look at the individual when assessing the morality of welfare. With care ethics it is not about why someone uses welfare, but simply that they have a need for welfare. Is there a need for welfare? There are people in our society for which there is a basic need for physical, mental, and material comfort, so the answer is yes. “Care ethics emphasizes the value of fostering relationships, paying as much attention to personal details as abstract principles, and recognizing the ethical importance of affection and care for others (Waller, 2011, pp. 164-165).” When applying care ethics to the problem of welfare, it seems that we would be compelled, morally, to help people in need. If we look at the individuals using welfare, their need would allow for the building of relationships and would also highlight the dependence and interdependence that we each have on one another. People on welfare are unable to provide basic substance for themselves or their family. The decision of care ethics would be that these people need special consideration based on their vulnerability and needs. Therefore, according to care ethics, welfare would be morally

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