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VIRTUEVIRTUE And VICE. Virtues are thought to be closely connected with our moral characters. They are the sorts of dispositions we have towards our emotions.

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Presentation on theme: "VIRTUEVIRTUE And VICE. Virtues are thought to be closely connected with our moral characters. They are the sorts of dispositions we have towards our emotions."— Presentation transcript:


2 Virtues are thought to be closely connected with our moral characters. They are the sorts of dispositions we have towards our emotions and desires, such as, self-control in regard to pleasures and passions, fear, and anger. They also concern proper social relations, that is, questions of fairness, honesty, and respect.

3 Traditionally, there are thought to be 4 cardinal (or key) virtues: Temperance self-control of pleasures. courage self-abnegation and control of fear. fairness or justice giving others what is their due. prudence or wisdom good moral decision making.

4 we are only concerned here with the first three, which are true character virtues. Wisdom is an intellectual ability that will be dealt with in another context.


6 It can be shown that in some respects, the three cardinal character virtues form a certain dependence. Temperance teaches self-control of one’s pleasures and desires. Without such an ability, it would be difficult to be fair to others. Greed, and desires for pleasures for oneself can be a significant inhibitor of fairness.

7 Courage encourages nobility, that is, denial of self-interest for the sake of something larger than one’s own interest or self. Courage lends itself to fairness, since fairness requires looking at what is in the common good, and not just what is one’s own good.

8 TEMPERANCE Self-control COURAGE Self- sacrifice Regard for Others FAIRMINDEDNESS The cardinal virtues are interdependent.

9 Since fairmindedness or justice is a paramount social virtue, it is the virtue that holds societies together and allows them to flourish. It is clear how important the virtues of temperance and courage are for fairness.

10 Virtues can be viewed as a mean between two extremes. This is called Aristotle’s golden mean. A virtue such as temperance is a mean between two extremes in regard to the sensation of pleasure.

11 Those who enjoy too much pleasures, or the wrong sorts of pleasures, are called self-indulgent. Those who don’t enjoy proper pleasures, or lead too austere of a life are called insensitive.

12 All the virtues and vices can be organized as means and extremes in regard to a certain pleasure, feeling or emotion.

13 The cardinal virtue of self-control. The ability to modulate the desire for pleasure; to forego immediate pleasures for long-term ones. Good-tempered frugal industrious secure sexually continent epicurous Quick-tempered lustful content covetous workaholic jealous gluttonous extravagant slothful miserly undesirous complacent anorectic prudish apathetic TEMPERANCE

14 COURAGE The cardinal virtue of self-efficacy. Behavior which involves, risk, harm or suffering for the sake of something greater than oneself. brave patient persevering stalwart rash dogged unyielding bold cowardly passive impatient concilliatory vacillating resigned

15 FAIRMINDEDNESS The cardinal virtue of cooperation. Behaviors which take into consideration the interest of others; regard for others. honesty truthfulness tolerance trustworthiness gratitude repentance dishonest untruthful ungrateful accountability accusatory intolerant liberal blunt legalistic self-indenturing dutiful

16 There is also a question concerning the possibility of virtuous character. Some such as Owen Flanagan argue that we shouldn’t talk about an honest person, but rather the disposition of a person to be honest in certain respects.

17 Virtuous Act An action that has a virtuous character; may be occasional. Virtuous Disposition or Module A tendency to act with regard to a certain. virtue in the context of some practice. VirtVirtuous behavior that is part of one’s personality. For this reason, he makes the following distinctions:

18 If someone had an honesty trait, he or she would act honestly in all her dealings. If honesty is a disposition, on the other hand, there might be kinds of situations in which a person did not act honestly.


20 Self-control in regard to pleasure. The ability to forestall lesser pleasures for greater ones. Temperance is often defined as: OR

21 We know from studies, such as Mischels’s “marshmallow test” (1990), that those who are apt at exercising self-control in regard to pleasure, and who can forestall immediate pleasures for long-term ones, are often more successful at whatever goals or plans they establish for themselves.

22 The inability to control desire for pleasure is the vice of self-indulgence. The inability to enjoy even proper pleasures is the vice of insensitivity. Temperance is associated with two vices:

23 Many psychologists claim that there are two sorts of Pleasures: Consummatory: pleasure derived from satisfaction of a desire; satiation. Appetitive: pleasure derived from the pursuit of a pleasure; anticipation. Characteristics of Pleasure:

24 enjoyment is sometimes distinguished from pleasure. the satisfaction of pleasure is often restorative and replenishing—it maintains us where we should be. enjoyments add to our pleasure, and often engage us more intensely in the activities that generate it.

25 in any case, pleasure and enjoyment is a powerful motivator and attraction in our lives. it is hard to imagine living without some modicum of pleasure.

26 In the history of ethics, we find a great deal of discussion about the proper role of pleasure in our lives.

27 There are several views concerning the proper relation between pleasure and the good life. Hedonism Sybaritism Epicureanism Eudaimonism Stoicism Asceticism

28 SYBARITISM Unbridled pursuit of pleasure. “Eat, drink, and be merry.” “If it feels good, do it.” HEDONISM claims that Pleasure is the goal of life. EPICUREANISM The pursuit of only highly qualitative pleasures. The search is for the kind of life of high quality and enduring pleasures. There are two versions of hedonism:

29 EUDAIMONISM Good practices rather than pleasure ought to be the goal in life; proper pleasures are the result of good practices.

30 ASCETICISM A radical denial of pleasure, in favor of the spiritual or ethical. STOICISM is that neither pleasure nor pain ought to be a factor in the determination of the best life---only what is good and right.

31 sybaritism is a difficult philosophy to support. A life in the indiscriminate pursuit of pleasure is difficult to maintain, and to support financially. The insistent pursuit of pleasure, as the Hollywood lifestyle, illustrates, often leads to addiction, disease, and the destruction of talent and opportunity.

32 Epicureanism 1. pleasure is the end of life. One should choose only those pleasures that lead to greater pleasures; and avoid those that eventually incur pain. Epicurus (341-270 B.C.E.) is considered to be the classic philosopher of hedonism.

33 the ultimate goal of the hedonist, according to Epicurus, is atraxia, or peace of mind. To attain atraxia, the body must aim for a state of repose A person should also avoid heavy responsibilities, ambitions and serious involvements The mind must also be put in a state of repose

34 Criticisms of epicureanism: 1. promotes an egocentric ethic; both familial and civic connections are discouraged. 2. subordinates virtue to pleasure; the only reason to act virtuously is if it brings pleasure.

35 Eudaimonism is best expressed in the work of Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.)

36 Eudaimonism argues that pleasure ought not to be the ultimate goal of our activities and pursuits, although a pleasurable life is certainly desirable. Instead pleasure ought to seen in its proper place as the result of activities and practices done excellently and virtuously. To do something for the sake of pleasure is to chance corrupting the good of the activity.

37 Eudaimonism 1. flourishing is the goal in life. 2. flourishing is the result of the virtuous exercise of good practices, which results in a certain sort of pleasure. 3. this pleasure completes the good life, but is not its goal.

38 Criticism of Eudaimonism Even though, it does not make pleasure the paramount in pursuit in life, still pleasure is a vital component of eudaimonism. The same criticism of hedonism, then, may be made of eudaimonism. It would seem that since the expectation of the good life is a pleasurable one, if that does not happen, then the life of virtue and excellence might be questioned.

39 Stoicism is a philosophy classically associated with Epictetus (55-135 C.E.).

40 Stoicism argues that pleasure or pain ought not to be a factor in living the good life and doing the right thing. The motivation for doing the right thing ought to be that it is the right thing to do, not because of some pleasure or peace of mind it might bring.

41 Consequently, for the Stoics, one has to grow indifferent to pleasure and pain, and find a purer motive for the right thing. Duty becomes a paradigm of proper moral behavior for the Stoics. One does your duty simply because duty commands you do it, not because of the consequences it might bring.

42 However, despite the emphasis on duty, and the stress on indifference to pleasure and pain, the Stoics do seem to argue that there is a certain enjoyable quality to life that results from the exercise of duty, and the indifference to pleasure.

43 Epictetus argues that the life of duty and virtue leads to a sort of tranquility, which he calls euthymia.

44 Criticisms of Stoicism 1. Indifference to pleasure and pain undermines that which engages us in life. The passions, joy and suffering is what ties us to this life. 3. still suggests that pleasure (in the form of tranquility (euthymia) is the goal in life. 2. Indifference to pain, may also lead to the indifference to the suffering of others.


46 Good temper is a species of temperance. Temperance is generally the ability to control or temper pleasure and enjoyment.

47 The release or expression of anger is often felt as pleasurable, even though it may be considered a negative emotion when it leads to violence or hatred. For this reason, good-temper is the control of something that is pleasurable for the person, but may be harmful to others.

48 The expression of anger is not always a vice. Sometimes it is completely appropriate to be angry. Anger can express a legitimate complaint against another who has done you harm. It is a way of warning others that you are aware of the harm they have done you.

49 GOOD- TEMPER Self-control in regard to anger. The inability to control one’s anger is the vice of bad-temper. The inability to become angry at the proper time is the vice of apathy.

50 Hot-tempered Gets angry easily and with the wrong persons and at the wrong things. Choleric Quick-tempered and seem to be angry at everything. Sulky Hard to appease and retain their anger long. Bad-tempered Combine the worst of the other types; often vengeful. The varieties of bad-temper


52 The “work ethic,” sometimes called the “Protestant work ethic” is thought to be composed a systematic combination of certain virtues: INDUSTRY CONTENTMENT FRUGALITY

53 INDUSTRY: the ability to work despite fatigue or lack of desire; placing priority of work over leisure or entertainment.

54 FRUGALITY: the ability to save money, to forestall immediate goods for long range material goals

55 CONTENTMENT: the ability to curb desire for more goods; being satisfied with a certain level of material and social goods.

56 Industry promotes good work habits; frugality allows one to save money; while contentment curbs desire for goods. It is claimed that, when these work in unison, they can allow a person to produce and accumulate wealth, and avoid the pitfalls of rabid consumerism.


58 Courage is considered a virtue of self-efficacy, and has to do with overcoming fear, or willingness to take risks.

59 The inability to control fear is the vice of cowardliness. Lack of fear or caution for what one should properly fear is the vice of foolhardiness. It is associated with two vices:

60 Courage or bravery involves certain kinds of puzzles:

61 COURAGE Three puzzles concerning courage: 3. Assuming that some Nazis were fighting to defend Nazism, were those soldiers just as courageous as their Allied foes? 2. Who is more courageous, a fireman who rescues someone from a burning building, or, an ordinary citizen who does the same thing? 1. Who is more courageous, a mountain climber or a fireman?

62 Courage facing significant harm or risk to one’s life for the sake of something greater than oneself. Bravery doing something despite a significant feeling of fear. One way of solving these paradoxes is to make a distinction between:

63 In regard to the first question, although both the mountain climber and the fireperson may be considered brave, the fireman is more courageous, since her actions are thought to be typically for a greater good, or collective good, as opposed to the mountain climber’s.

64 In regard to the second question, the ordinary citizen may exhibit more bravery—even perhaps foolhardiness—although both exhibit courage. Because the fireman is better trained, equipped, and has more experience, he may face less fear in this situation.

65 The third puzzle allows the possibility that a courageous person could also be immoral. This puzzle is discussed under the instrumental and integral theory of the virtues.

66 Fearlessness: Constitutional ability to be less anxious in face of danger. Daring: Willingness to take a new or novel course of action. Valor: Strength of mind and body. Intrepidity: Bravery in the context of a mission or goal. Dauntlessness: Determination to stick to a dangerous task. Mettle: Resilience or ability to endure Some other virtues in regard to fear:


68 regard for the interests of others in the context of some cooperative or competitive practice. FAIRMINDEDNESS

69 Fairmindedness should be distinguished from notions such as Justice and Fairness.

70 Fairmindedness is characteristic of a person, whereas Justice and Fairness are qualities of institutions and practices.

71 Fairness pertains to how the basic rules of a practice are implemented and exercised.

72 Justice is concerned with the overarching principles of a practice or a set of practices that determine rights and duties, costs and benefits, punishments and rewards.

73 4. The rules should be impartial; no special treatment should be given, and they should serve as the final court of appeal. 1. The practice should be mutually advantageous BASIC CONDITIONS OF FAIRNESS 2. The rules governing the practice must be understood and consented to by the participants. 3. The rules should be equitable; everyone should play by the same rules.

74 3. Shows a willingness to correct the practice where it is unfair. CHARACTERISTICS OF A FAIR-MINDED PERSON 1. Shows a willingness to participate in practices that are mutually or collectively beneficial. 2. Does not seek more advantage for himself or herself than what is due; does not demand from others more than their fair contribution.

75 JUSTICE Distributive Justice Concerns the proper distribution of costs and benefits in a practice or system of practices. Retributive Justice Concerns the proper punishments for the violation of the rules of a practice.


77 TRUTHFULNESS is the presentation of information in a way that is believed to be accurate by the provider. HONESTY (in word as opposed to deed) is fairness in regard to information; that is the truthful presentation of information thought to be owed to the person. NON-DISCLOSURE is the omission of information relevant to the interests of others.

78 The Many Ways to Be Dishonest: DECEPTION is planned lying ; often misleading information is presented to a person intentionally for some goal or purpose the deceiver has in mind. LYING is a denial of what one believes to be true in response to a direct inquiry. MISLEADING is providing information that is known to be inaccurate and in such a way as to direct the person towards a certain belief or action.

79 The Many Ways to Be Dishonest: DUPLICITY is the case where you make a certain set of claims to one person, but their contrary to another, usually for the purposes of gaining a certain advantage or avoiding harm. INSINCERITY is false or pretended advocacy of a political, religious or other wide-ranging belief. LIBEL is the deliberate telling of lies meant specifically to harm the reputation of a person.

80 The Many Ways to Be Dishonest: HYPOCRISY public advocacy of a belief but private expression of its disbelief; acting opposite of what you publicly advocate. DUPERY is deceiving someone who is especially innocent or gullible. EXAGGERATION is enhancement or distortion of fact for effect. PRETENSE is offering information as accurate when one is not entirely sure it is.

81 The Many Ways to Be Dishonest: Self-Deception Often takes on the form of rationalization: INVERSION‘I did him a service by hitting him, now he’s more aware of his failings.’ PROJECTION‘he deserved to be hit’ BLAMING‘the crowd pushed me to hit him’ EXCUSE‘I was in a terrible mood, and he said something that set me off’ COMPARISON‘at least I didn’t beat him to a bloody pulp’ CONVENTIONALIZATION‘everybody gets into a fight once in awhile’

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