Define virtue theory and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

Virtue ethics are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind and character.
Characteristics of Virtue ethics:

  • Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems.
  • The Virtue Ethical theorieshold that ethical value of an individual is determined by his character. The character refers to the virtues, inclinations and intentions that dispose of a person to be ready to act ethically.
  • The Virtue Ethical Theories are based on the notion that developing a sound character is what the life is all about. The character builds a substantive moral foundation for one’s actions.

Strengths:

  • Examines the moral agent unlike many other ethical theories.
  • It holds human relationships in high regard unlike others such as Kant, who sees close bonds as morally dangerous.
  • Human emotions and responsibilities are important. This separates Virtue Ethics from most other ethical theories as they regard emotions as illogical and therefore dangerous.
  • Allows the moral agent to make ethical decisions based on his or her moral well-being, not just based on what is legally right. Acknowledges that morality is complex and so rejects simplistic maxims as a basis for moral truth.
  • It does not claim to be a miracle solution for every problem but tries to equip us so as to deal with the problems.
  • It places virtues at the centre of morality.

Weakness:

  • Virtue Ethics is focused on the individual; it neither resolves nor attempts to resolve big moral dilemmas. It may help make the moral agent virtuous but it does not give any answers relating to an ethical crisis.
  • Virtual Ethics focuses on a small number of traits that make the individual virtuous but ignores the big picture. Society today is far too big and complex to take note of a moral theory that only focuses on the small things. Modern governments (except those of which are Dictatorships) cannot make ethical decisions on the basis of individual character traits, they need to look at the consequences of actions on the population as a whole.

Virtue ethics cannot be universally applied to all people in all situations. Truth and honesty are good individual traits, but you cannot be truthful and honest with a kidnapper who is searching for a hiding victim.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Define virtue theory and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.

Published: April 2, 2018 | Modified:June 27, 2019

Comments