Introduction Understanding virtue ethics theories begins with understanding the concept of the ideal character traits a virtuous and ethical person has according to Aristotle’s Ethical Theory. Virtuous ethics relies on the actions of a person in adhering to their duty as a part of society’s moral expectations when considering Aristotle’s Ethical Theory. Part 1 of the following demonstrates an academic understanding of Aristotle’s Ethical Theory by explaining what moral virtue is according to the requirements outlined by Aristotle; and the relation between moral virtue and eudaimonia. Part 2 evaluates Aristotle’s Ethical Theory with a critique of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics including Aristotle’s response to the critique. This is according to Lauden’s critique of the virtue ethics and how Aristotle describes a virtuous person and the manner he proposes identifying such characteristics as virtue ethics. In presenting the critique of Aristotle’s precept, the argument Lauden takes is the contemporary analysis holding a more pragmatic application about Aristotle’s view of practical wisdom as the gauge of a person’s virtue ethics. The argument frames on the realities of the contemporary universal world versus the polis community of Aristotle’s era when he formed his theory.
Lauden critique of virtue ethics from a contemporary view agrees there is a component of the concept that addresses the issue of human right and wrong actions, however, he contends the moral evaluation only takes place in an imitative manner and this is the weakness of Aristotle’s theory. The contention held by Aristotle is that identifying the virtue ethics in humans aligns to recognizing their having practical wisdom (1140a24) while Lauden challenges there is no way to recognize such a quality. Lauden refers to Aristotle’s claim that Pericles “and men like him” are such examples of this quality of practical wisdom “because they can see what is good for themselves and what is good for men in general” (1140b8-10) (Lauden, 233). Lauden considers this a little more than a causal point of view of Aristotle and its further limitations for the student gaining insight for tracking down an example of the person having practical wisdom has no such direction. To the point on this, Lauden charges Aristotle’s attitude shows he does not even consider it an issue for discussion (Lauden 233). Aristotle’s argument in response to Lauden fits a methodology of the moral community (rather than a universal) and Aristotle would comfortably find others in agreement in judging the character of the familiar members of the community because of their actions.
Lauden takes further issue with the context of Aristotle’s ethical theory specific to the fact it was formed around his familiarity with the actions of those people in his community. But to apply this to the contemporary idea of a shrinking global community the context takes on greater implications that find people rarely know each other to the extent to put this type moral judgment on one another for one thing, but even more specific is the diversity of values where disagreements exist (Lauden 233).
Lauden then addresses the external fallacy of Aristotle’s virtue ethics establishing the desirable moral characteristics that align to the actions of people. This draws upon the argument that internally an individual may be shallow, selfish, without compassion, but they outwardly through their actions do what is right for the situation. At the same time, there exist individuals with self-efficacy of their moral and ethical practices but may when confronted with a specific situation act opposite to these virtue ethics they identify with self. Lauden further sees such a comparison as the person without a moral disposition dong what is right when confronted with a situation is far better than not doing what is right at all (Lauden 234).
Review of Aristotle’s simplistic virtue ethics and how to determine the person who exemplifies such characteristics affirms the underpinnings of Lauden’s critique because of the impreciseness of Aristotle’s theory. The situation-sensitive and flexibleness of the virtue of ethics theory becomes an empirical process of the example of a virtuous agent. It is a fully developed morally sound virtuous agent acting according to their moral character is the example Aristotle’s theory espouses. In this context the development of moral judgment leads the behavior of the agent. Lauden determines it is the intention of Aristotle explaining the virtue ethics exhibited by the actions of such a person but unlike Aristotle Lauden views moral judgment as a lifelong process and not a matter of an internalized principle that all human activity will ultimately aim (Lauden 232).
Unlike Aristotle’s argument as stated above about the final intention of human behavior is virtue ethics, this is neither an easy nor instant answer. The fact is no answers exist according to Lauden although having an understanding of the virtuous agent along with the importance of access to and participation in a moral education and moral development the true role of the virtuous agent emerges. It is a matter of whether virtue in a person exists from the right reason along with the right desire that makes virtue ethics guiding the actions of the person. It is in this manner that humans have the understanding of the right reason resulting in successfully adapting subjective desires in affirming its commands (Lauden 232).
In conclusion, the above Part 1 successfully provided how according to Aristotle’s Ethical Theory explains that virtuous ethics relies on the actions of a person adhering to their duty as a part of society’s moral expectations as outlined by the philosopher. Part 2 referenced Lauden’s argument with Aristotle’s view that the internal virtue ethics of humans is apparent in the form of practical wisdom exhibited in their behavior. Lauden contended there is no way to determine this from a universal perspective because of the diversity of values in the larger community. Pragmatically this holds up to the argument Aristotle would counter based on his experience with the smaller polis society he based his theory.
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