Intro to Ethics

  1. Chapter 14: The Nature of Virtue
    • Happiness is the end of all our pursuits, an intrinsically desirable
    • good for the sake of which we desire all other things. Aristotle seeks
    • to give material content to this formal definition by identifying the
    • "function" or characteristic action of human beings. A happy or
    • flourishing human being is one who performs his or her function well.
    • Now, the characteristic action of the human being is to exercise reason;
    • human happiness, therefore, consists in the excellent, or virtuous,
    • activity of the rational part of the soul, in both its theoretical and
    • practical dimensions. Intellectual virtue is acquired by birth and by
    • teaching, whereas moral virtue is acquired as a result of habit; that
    • is, by performing virtuous acts until these becoming a kind of "second
    • nature" to us. Virtuous acts strive to realize a mean of feeling an
    • action between the extremes of excess and defect. The standard of virtue
    • is given not by an abstract rule but by the example of the excellent
    • person: A virtuous act is that act that the virtuous person would do in a
    • given set of circumstances.
  2. Happiness
    According to Aristotle, an activity of the soul exhibiting moral and intellectual virtue over the course of a complete life.
  3. Virtue
    • Synonymous with 'excellence' in Aristotle; comes in
    • two forms in humans: intellectual virtue, which is acquired by birth
    • and teaching, and moral virtue, which comes about by habituation.
  4. Characteristic function
    • That function the performance of which defines a
    • being as the kind of being it is; humans' characteristic function is an
    • activity of soul involving reason.
  5. Mean
    In Aristotle, the virtuous intermediate state between the two extremes of excess and defect in passions (feelings) and actions.
Card Set
Intro to Ethics
Chapter 14