Explain And Evaluate Aristotle's Conception Of Virtue – Assignment Example

Explain And Evaluate Aristotles Conception Of Virtue The International Encyclopedia of Philosophy says that Aristotle believed that human beings must first be happy before anything else could happen in their lives. The individual was to gain this happiness by identifying certain virtues that were important to them. He believed that in order to have happiness, it must come from human nature and it usually happens because of personal experiences. To make sure that happiness came to a person and continued, they would need to develop certain behaviors to promote this, which he called virtues. According to James Rachels and Stuart Rachels, these virtues were traits such as benevolence, fairness, compassion, tolerance and thoughtfulness. When a person had these traits, they were able to live a full life.
When a person is making an ethical decision, how they would approach the decision would depend on whether they were a virtuous person or not. In other words, if they possessed the various virtuous traits, they would act accordingly and move towards being happy. However, he did not see a "right or wrong" in a decision because it was more based on a persons character than on the act itself.
The International Encyclopedia of Philosophy states that these virtues can fall between two opposite vices. As an example, an individuals decision can fall between cowardice and rashness, which would be courageous in his view. Each type of vice had a middle ground that an individual could choose to take. The individual would need to always keep a high-mindedness in order to make sure that they were staying on a positive path of right action.
Although Aristotle viewed the idea that all individuals were striving for good rather than evil, I am not certain that this is always the case. When we are looking at criminals and others unsavory situations it would seem that some people are striving for evil instead of good. However, he also states that the way an individual acts is according to their virtue. If they have a virtuous nature, then they will acquire the traits or virtues to live a happy life. I think this idea is too simplistic. I think that more goes into a persons thought as to what is right and what is wrong, and they must weigh many things against their own moral code in order to understand what to do in a situation.
Works Cited
"Aristotle (384—322 BCE)". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. Web 16 August 2010
Rachels, James. and Rachels, Stuart. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. New York: McGraw- Hill. 2007. Print