The Origins, Development and Tenets of Virtue Ethics



I have critiqued obligation-based moral theories in general ethics and I have articulated several important flaws central to these theories. I concluded that consequentialism and deontology are incomplete and inadequate moral theories. In this chapter, I will examine virtue ethics, the moral theory that argues that the virtues are central to morality and to the aim of living a morally good life. First, I trace the origins and development of virtue ethics. I then identify four central tenets of virtue ethics and note the distinction between supplementary and strong forms of virtue ethics. Next, I examine Aristotle’s virtue ethics. I then look more closely at virtue ethics’ account of moral character and moral education. In the next chapter, I examine some common objections to virtue ethics.


Virtue Ethic Moral Theory Moral Character Moral Education Moral Rule 
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    J. Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy, 3rd edn (New York: McGraw Hill, 1999), p. 177.Google Scholar
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    E. D. Pellegrino & D. C. Thomasma, The Virtues in Medical Practice (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
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    See P. M. Churchland, Matter and Consciousness (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1990)Google Scholar
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    See, for example: S. Scheffler, Human Morality (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Alan E. Armstrong 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Central LancashirePrestonUK

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