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10 Cards in this Set

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What are the main tenets of virtue ethics?
The theory of virtue ethics is primarily predicated on the belief that morality is (or should be) predominately centered not on evaluating specific actions (as do deontological and consequentialist ethical theories), but on evaluating the adherence of an individual to certain virtues. Thus, the virtue ethicist asks not “is this a good action?” but rather: “is this an action that a good person would take?”. Virtue ethicists believe that though utilitarianism, for example, can be useful in deciding how to organize society, a virtue-based approach makes for a more personal, meaningful ethics for day to day life.
How does rule utilitarianism differ from rule-based ethical theories?
Though it makes use of rules, rule utilitarianism is still essentially consequentalist. Rule utilitarians believe that adopting certain rules that produce fairly consistently good consequences can be a useful and expeditious practice because it can save people from having to agonize over the consequences of their every action. Unlike in rule-based ethics, however, utilitarian rules are prima facie, meaning that in exceptional cases where adhering to the rule would not produce good consequences, the rule can be broken.
What is Greek Naturalism relative to Aristotle? (James Hall, pg. 236)
Greek Naturalism is related to the concept that something is virtuous when it attempts to be so virtuous through the greatest extent that it can be virtuous. Aristotle divides these areas to be fulfilled into three areas, Temperance, Courage, and Wisdom. He believes that all living things contain a nutritive soul, an active soul, and a rational soul (or mind), and that through utilization of these, one can fulfill virtuously.

Example: A person can be virtuous through trying as hard as they can to be accepting of some annoyance in their daily life, such as a frightening, loud person near them (temperance), and taking the time to alert this person of their annoyance (courage, wisdom).
What is James Hall’s hierchization of rights in utilitarianism? (James Hall, pg. 303)
James Hall’s hierchization of rights in utilitarianism is an idea relating utilitarian through to specific situations, and assigning priority to certain individuals and things over other people and objects (compared to rather a quantity, in the idea of “greatest good to greatest number of people).

Example: One can argue that it would be absurd to set up violent trap in one’s own property simply because a neighbor’s rabbit is hopping over the fence-line.
Eudaimonia & Virtue Ethics
Aristotle was the father of virtue ethics. Aristotle’s philosophy states that humans should aim for eudaimonia, which has been translated as meaning “happiness”, “flourishing”, and “well being”. Eudaimonia, according to Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics, “…is an activity of soul in accordance with complete or perfect virtue”. Virtues include traits of character, such as courage, and traits of intellect, such as rationality. Aristotle was careful to distinguish eudaimonia or true happiness from pleasure and its pursuit, saying that, “[H]e who enjoys every pleasure and never abstains from any pleasure is licentious; he who eschews all pleasure like a boor is an insensible sort of person.” (Aristotle 142). It is evident from such a statement that the goal of Aristotle’s philosophy of ethics is not to maximize pleasure, but to create a flourishing state of happiness in which pleasure is enjoyed in moderation. Aristotle’s philosophy is also distinct because it does not state that it is up to the individual to decide if they are happy. Because virtues are identified and judged socially, society ultimately determines what actions are virtuous and therefore right.
Support for Ethical Egoism
Ethical egoists say that we ought to be moved only by our interest in and concern for ourselves. Some support for this case includes:
- The alternative to egoism is altruism, which subordinates our own interests to those of others, and is life-denying
- Subverting ourselves to others denies us the fulfillment of our own capacities
- Moral judgments must be practical, or capable of motivating those who make them
What is the Boo/Hooray theory?
The Boo/Hooray theory is also known as emotivism. Emotivism is a theory that claims all ethical statements are meaningless. Emotivists (like A.J. Ayer) would say that instead of expressing facts, ethical statements express the emotion of the one expressing them, meaning that moral judgements are more like statements of a person’s emotional position on something rather than a judgement made because of their moral code.
This is called the Boo/Hooray theory because, according to emotivism, our “moral judgements” are no more than cheering for something we view as positive (like returning a wallet a person drops) or hissing down something viewed as negative (like murder).
Does viewing situations from the “point of view of the universe” (Singer 267) contribute more to solving ethical problems than viewing them from just your own point of view?
The point of view of the universe is the view you can hold once you realize that your own interests and desires that place you front and center are no more privileged than the personal view other people hold. This view means one would act impartially, which is good in some instances (like when judging in a competition, since to judge fairly one needs to remove all personal biases and all outside pressures to judge as fairly as possible). In other instances, like considering decisions having to do with one’s own emotions and the feelings of others, acting impartially might affect the one acting negatively by making them disregard their own feelings in favor of the feelings of others.
According to virtue ethicists, why is the utilitarian approach insufficient in evaluating individuals’ virtues?
Utilitarians might evaluate individual character based on certain traits’ abilities to maximize general benefit. According to Utilitarians, people should possess moral qualities because they have greater utility. The virtue ethicist would consider this approach to be flawed because it ignores the origins of moral traits. That is, a person’s humility does not initially arise out of his/her deliberate intention to maximize utility. Virtue ethicists, therefore, criticize utilitarianism (and Kantianism) on the grounds that it depicts a “faceless ethical agent who is equipped by theory to make moral choices” without reference to psychology or human history/tradition.
What are two main determinants of character that virtue ethics studies?
Virtue theory firstly examines the extent to which various societies encourage particular virtues and vices. This is applicable, for example, to the feminist movement. Modern feminists must consider the praiseworthiness of traditional female virtues in terms of the historical contexts from which they arose. Virtue theory also studies the ability of the self to shape character. It considers the individual’s ability to change his/herself.