Virtue ethics revolves around three significant aspects; virtue, as the name states, purpose, and happiness. It answers and explains questions like ‘how am I supposed to live?’ and ‘what makes someone a good or bad person?’. Virtue ethics explicitly define virtues by declaring a balance point between two vices. This is known as practical wisdom, which is also a requirement of being a virtuous person.

Why Virtue Ethics is important

A good aspect of virtue ethics stands out is that it motivates us to strive for a better morality and different theories that solely say what the right thing to do is in an ethical dilemma. It reflects on moral reasoning. Therefore, we naturally tend to make biased decisions, and virtue ethics endorses this. However, it doesn’t rely on a theory such as a self-improvement. We must focus on ourselves as individuals while developing ourselves into becoming better people.

The Ethics Centre on Virtue Ethics

Counter-arguments against Virtue Ethics

Action-Guiding. Moral philosophy is concerned with practical issues. Fundamentally it is an ethic regarding how we should act. Virtue ethics has criticized consequentialist and deontological theories for being too rigid and inflexible because they rely on one rule or principle.

A downside is that it doesn’t regard whatever is right or wrong based on action alone. For instance, it only describes what sort of characteristics one should develop. Virtues don’t differentiate between the right course of action in a particular ethical dilemma.

Philosopher Aristotle


Aristotle, a Greek philosopher born in 384 BC, providing a complex mixture of various philosophers who lived before him. He was a scholar of Plato and keened on practical wisdom.

According to Aristotle, there are eleven virtues that we need to identify in others and nurture those virtues in ourselves to become good people.

Those virtues are courage, temperance, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, pride, patience, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness, and modesty.

According to Aristotle, all virtues circulate in the middle around two vices. Courage, for example, balances between cowardice and rashness, as explained in the video below. Aristoteles calls this the golden means between two extremes of character.

The school of life on Aristotle

Virtue friendships

We all know that friends can help brighten our day. But what are friends for? There are three kinds of friendships that exist. First, there is the fun-seeking friendship, where both parties want to have fun with each other to forget about the day. They both aid it bringing the other person joy. The second one is strategic friendship, where both parties have fun to gain some advantage later on—politics, for example. Lastly, there is the truth to them. They care as much about you like yourself. They strengthen you. You both share virtues.

  1. Fun-seeking friendship
  2. Strategic friendship
  3. Truth friendship

Virtue ethics and ideals

According to virtue ethics, there are certain ideals, such as perfection or devotion to the common virtue or good. These pinnacles are discovered through thoughtful reflection on what we as human beings have the potential to become. This includes how we should strive and which allows the total improvement of humankind.

Adopted ideals

Virtues are attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and act in ways that develop this potential. It will allow us to pursue the ideals we have adopted. Self-control, honesty, compassion, prudence, courage, integrity, fairness, generosity, and fidelity are fine examples of virtues.

If you want to know more about how you can beat your SWS, see this article: ‘The Sine Wave Syndrome.’ There is a summary of all the different types of ethics if you want to learn all about it. Knowing all kinds of ethics may help you to understand how ‘good’ choices are being made among their different aspects.

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