Presentation on theme: "Virtue Ethics Peter D Toon. Virtue ethics Focus is on personal qualities needed to flourish Flourishing is central Not rules or consequences plus personal."— Presentation transcript:
Virtue Ethics Peter D Toon
Virtue ethics Focus is on personal qualities needed to flourish Flourishing is central Not rules or consequences plus personal qualities needed to achieve these – this is character deontology of character consequentialism
Key concepts in virtue ethics How should one live? εὐδαιμονία -eudaimoniaεὐδαιμονία The good life The life worth living Happiness flourishing
Key concepts in virtue ethics How should one live? εὐδαιμονία -eudaimoniaεὐδαιμονία Determined by τέλος telos – end, purpose or goal Implies a narrative view of life: “Count no man happy until he is dead” - Solon
Key concepts in virtue ethics How should one live? εὐδαιμονία -eudaimoniaεὐδαιμονία The life of pleasure – Epicurius (Hedonism) The life of virtue – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics What is the life of virtue?
Key concepts in virtue ethics How should one live? εὐδαιμονία -eudaimoniaεὐδαιμονία Aristotle – rejects the ideas of a life devoted to pleasure or to politics advises a life devoted to friendship and contemplation
Buzz groups What are modern ideas of the good life? What is yours?
Key concepts in virtue ethics What personal qualities do you need to achieve eudaimonia? ἀρετή - Arete – virtues or excellences of character Intellectual and moral disposition or habit of acting rightly according to reason ( Aquinas) Qualities needed to overcome challenges (Nussbaum and Sen)
Key concepts in virtue ethics virtues are usually seen as acquired or learnt characteristics -Because these can be changed - though there is an issue about people who are naturally virtuous or vicious in various ways -Much discussion of the issue of “moral luck” -Eg Nussbaum The Fragility of Goodness
Key concepts in virtue ethics Traditional catalogue of the seven virtues: Temperance, Courage, Justice, Wisdom Faith Hope and Love
Aristotles virtues - the golden mean EXCESSMEANDEFICIENCY Vicevirtuevice
Aristotles virtues - summary SPHERE OF ACTION OR FEELING EXCESSMEANDEFICIENCY AngerIrascibilityPatience/Good temperLack of spirit/unirascibility Self-expressionBoastfulnessTruthfulnessUnderstatement/mock modesty ConversationBuffooneryWittinessBoorishness Social ConductObsequiousnessFriendlinessCantankerousness ShameShynessModestyShamelessness IndignationEnvyRighteous indignation Malicious enjoyment/Spitefulness
Buzz groups What virtues are required to flourish as a practitioner in health care?
Factors which affect your view of the virtues Vision of the good Vision of the good life The person or role you are considering -will influence your catalogue of virtues
Key concepts in virtue ethics Φρόνησις - Phronesis The central virtue needed to know the virtuous action Practical wisdom Discernment Prudentia, prudence Both a moral and an intellectual excellence
Key concepts in virtue ethics ἀκρασία Akrasia “weakness of will” Does it exist? A problem of reason or of emotion?
How do you acquire virtue? Modelling – WWJD ( or S or A or B or C) Reflection on the telos of life, on eudaemonia and on specific virtues – what is courage, what is temperance Narrative and experience based
How do you acquire virtue? involves training the emotions as well as the intellect and the will Can you always become virtuous by trying harder?
History of virtue ethics – an overview Plato - Euthyphro, Charmides, Greater Hippias, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno Aristotle – Ethics Stoics and Epicurians The Christian synthesis – Gospels and St Paul - Obligation or virtue based? Augustine - absolute responsibility to tell the truth, but “love God and do what you like” Aquinas – Aristotle
Post Renaissance/ Reformation Enlightenment Emphasis on Obligation Kant – the Categorical Imperative Betham and Mill – Imperative to maximise happiness
The 20 th Century renaissance Anscombe Foot Slote Hursthouse Macintyre
Hursthouse – virtue ethics and abortion Not based on fetal status, woman’s rights or (specifically) on consequences Based on the biological facts and our emotional reaction to them
Hursthouse – virtue ethics and abortion Pregnancy is a special condition abortion is not like appendicectomy or hair cut a new life or potential new life is a serious matter and its cutting off is not trivial Attitudes to new life change as it develops Mixed feelings to a pregnancy are normal Family life is part of eudaemonia viz our reaction to miscarriage, stillbirth
Hursthouse – virtue ethics and abortion Based on these things a virtuous person may opt for abortion in some circumstances: Poor physical health, gruellingly adverse circumstances, will harm existing children, not ready for the responsibility not interfere with my promotion got a holiday booked
Hursthouse – virtue ethics and abortion a virtuous response may well include regret even when abortion is the virtuous choice, and may still reflect moral failing –e.g. for getting in the situation in the first place
Hursthouse – virtue ethics and abortion To a considerable extent this reflects the law we have ( though not always how it is interpreted) Does it reflect your moral intuitions?
Alasdair Macintyre – After Virtue The theory of moral fragmentation since the Enlightenment The “partial solution” lies in a unified life narrative based on engagement in practices in which the virtues and cultivated an through which “internal goods” are generated
Moral fragmentation in health care Fragmented concepts of illness and disease Platonic and statistical norms Obstacles to maximising pleasure in consequentialist terms In the mind or in the body? Mind-body dualism Markets and “disease mongering” Responsibility and illness – cause or effect?
The practice of health care Collaboration between professionals ( doctors, nurses, other clinicians, managers, administrators) and patients Internal goods – health Generating a flourishing narrative through the change of meaning through the interpretative function as well as by objective change through biomedical intervention
The practice of health care What is a flourishing narrative in terms of health? A good life and a good death Illness as challenge which helps generate virtue
The practice of health care Professionalism and flourishing professionals What are professional virtues? Institutions which support professionalism